Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Starship Troopers

directed by Paul Verhoeven

Starship Troopers poster  
Starship Troopers is set in a martial society of the future, where "service guarantees citizenship" and only citizens have the right to vote. Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) is a young man determined to earn that right. He enlists, in spite of the opposition of his parents. As a jock with poor maths skills he ends up in the mobile infantry, which basically means he will be cannon fodder. Or, to be more accurate, bug fodder.

Earth is at war with the bugs, giant arachnid aliens who seem to be pure, hungry killing machines. Some of these creatures have massive, pincer-like jaws and they walk on legs like blades, perfect for severing puny humans limb from limb. The recruitment propaganda is absurd, but Rico is perhaps influenced more by his girlfriend, Carmen (Denise Richards), who joins up as a pilot.

The reality of military life is a long way from the cosy world of high school. Whilst Carmen is far away, spending time with a handsome flight instructor, Rico's training is considerably more brutal.

The satire is laid on thick. Ultra-macho soldiers face the massive hordes of bugs with the gung-ho attitude of the thoroughly indoctrinated. The effects are gory, and although the swarming bugs are convincingly rendered they are also laughably over-the-top.

This movie is funny in an extremely blunt way. On one level it's satirising a certain reckless military attitude. But on another, it has lines like "They sucked his brains out!"

In between explosive space battles and bug blasting, there's a rivalry between the mobile infantry and the fleet pilots, interwoven with an unashamedly cheesy romantic sub-plot. Like everything else in this film, it's not subtle. The story is extreme, and that's one of the things that makes Starship Troopers so much fun. The dialogue is good, but don't expect anything intellectually demanding from this movie. It pokes fun at space opera as well as military propaganda with a violent and excessively silly plot that's splattery and action-packed.

Film Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson