It has long been hypothesized by entomologists and philosophers
around the world that if insects possessed sentient intelligence, they
would rule the world. I guess they could also rule the world if they
were really big. That's the premise of Starship Troopers. It takes
place some time in the future (if they gave the date, I don't remember
it) where Man has constructed massive spacecraft and even more massive
space stations, allowing them to stretch out to the far reaches of the
galaxy. The script doesn't go into the physics of their
faster-than-light method of travel, but that's okay for this type of
movie. What type of movie is it, specifically? I originally thought
that it would be one of your typical "Us Against the Aliens" shoot-em-ups
like the classic B-Movies of America's paranoid 1950's. As infrequently
as it happens, I was wrong.
|Stars:||Doogie Howser and some other people|
The movie started out very unexpectedly: a newscast. I was
reminded of the Interstellar Network on the TV sci-fi Babylon 5. After
a particularly unsuccessful live broadcast from the Front Line, we jump
back a year to outline the events which lead up to that point. This is
where it gets interesting.
We are exposed to, both blatantly and subtlely, the current state
of Earth society, which is basically divided into two classes: civilians
and citizens. Citizenry is the preferred state, and must be earned
through public service, such as the military. The story basically follows
this one guy (since I don't remember his name, I'll call him Joe) as he signs up for military service
in the Federation. He is convinced to do so both by his ever-grinning
girlfriend and his one-armed schoolteacher, who is played by the same guy who
was Cohagen's (sp?) right-hand man in Total Recall (funny, I thought he lost
both arms in Total Recall). Anyway, Joe, his ever-grinning girlfriend,
his psychic friend Doogie Howser, and Diz (who has a crush on Joe) all signed
up for service. Joe, having failed his math test, was placed in Mobile Infantry;
his ever-grinning girlfriend became a pilot trainee; and Doogie Howser (seriously,
Neil Patrick Harris is never going to be able to shake his Doogie Howser image)
gets into Intelligence, where everything is classified.
The Bugs, also called Arachnids (although they only have 4-6 legs),
are at first little more than scientific curiosities and nuisances. They colonize
other worlds by flinging seeded asteroids all around the galaxy. All the
asteroids headed toward Earth are destroyed, until one day, one gets through.
Therefore, the Federation decides to go to war with the Bugs, as presented
in a newscast that was like a cross between Babylon 5's ISN reports
and Howard Handupme's report on operation "We Are Right" in the short-lived sitcom
Dinosaurs. It's a little disturbing that I still know the reporter's name, isn't it?
But enough about the plot. Suffice to say that mankind's arrogance
plays a major part and can therefore be interpreted as the theme or 'moral' of
the movie. What really stands out is the violence. You thought the bowie-knife
bonanza in Scream was violent? 'Tis nothing compared to Starship Troopers.
But it's not just the bug-fighting scenes. The brutal boot camp made a lasting
impression, where the drill sergeant called for a medic every five minutes after
manhandling the recruits. But the Bug fights are a different story. They don't
just politely kill someone, they rip them apart. You don't see any dead bodies
with arms, legs, and head still attached. There are more limbs lying on the ground
in this movie than in a clear-cutting operation in the Pacific Northwest. The
bugs to get seriously screwed up, too, because what fight scene would be complete
without heroic infantry troops covered in colorful bug goo?
One odd thing about Starship Troopers is the arsenal of the Mobile
Infantry. Their projectile weapons include machine guns and small nuclear devices.
Nothing in-between. Nukes mess up the bugs quite nicely, but you can't use them
in close quarters or else you'll incinerate yourself. Therefore, you're limited
to your trusty machine gun. Fortunately, it can hold a bazillion rounds of ammo
in a little tiny magazine. This is good because these bugs aren't exactly
a one-shot kill. And did I mention there were a lot of these bugs? A whole lot.
A whole, massive, freakin' lot. And not just the little 10-foot-tall soldier
bugs. We've got bugs three times the size of that semi truck driving 25
miles-per-hour in front of you as you try to merge onto the interstate. We've
got big flying bugs with a knack for decapitations. So, with all these bugs,
why do we sent little puny infantry platoons down to the surface to fight them?
Beats me. Ripley, in Aliens, said it best when she said, "I say we just
take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
Although, since these bugs live underground, I suppose you would have to build
yourself a Death Star to be sure to get rid of them all.
Starship Troopers has been compared to Alien and Aliens (I'm ignoring
Alien 3 because it sucked). That's just not right. The Aliens aliens were
sinister and cunning. Almost all of the bugs in Starship Troopers were just
mindless drones, protecting their hive.
Starship Troopers was also critically lambasted because it's not
exactly a memorable sci-fi, and I have to agree with this. As you could probably
found out by reading this review, I don't remember anybody's names. But I
do remember the violence and visual effects. It's not a happy feeling you take
back once the lights in the theater turn on, especially since they kind of
leave you hanging at the end. I expected a complete story, but most of the
film was dedicated to environment and character development, which was actually
a welcome surprise. It's a safe bet there will be a sequel, and I will probably
see that on its opening day, too.