Starship Troopers: Prepare for Battle (1997)

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

As humanity progressed toward its future, the military took a more active control over the populous. In order to gain full citizenship, high school graduates were required to enlist. For Johnny Rico, Dizzy Flores, Carmen Ibanez and Carl Jenkins, there was no telling what the future had in store for them. After enlistment sent each of them in different directions, Johnny finds himself with Dizzy in the Mobile Infantry. Basic training brings a whole new set of challenges, including Johnny debating the balance of his physical skills with his leadership. Just when he is ready to give up, war is declared on the bugs from Klendathu, sending the entire military into a fire fight with the bugs. Though their efforts on Klendathu fail to meet their desired goals, the federation takes a different approach with exterminating the bugs from each planet, starting with Planet P. While Dizzy and Johnny attack the bugs from the ground, Carmen continues to pilot spacecraft, while Carl experiences life in Military Intelligence.

Starring: Casper Van Dien (Johnny Rico), Dina Meyer (Dizzy Flores), Denise Richards (Carmen Ibanez), Neil Patrick Harris (Carl Jenkins), Michael Ironside (Jean Rasczak), Clancy Brown (Sgt. Zim), Jake Busey (Ace Levy)

The core group of actors give a great balance to a film that is highly focused on military activities. Casper Van Dien has a level of intensity and anger that plays well for an affluent, physically-gifted, intellectually-inferior young man looking to succeed in his goal for citizenship. Dina Meyer is rather skilled as well, but she manages to play a more obsessive character in her lust for Van Dien’s character. Carmen Ibanez, played by Denise Richards, is an attractive and intelligent young woman, who serves as Van Dien’s love interest and a source of conflict in his main storyline. Neil Patrick Harris exhibits some of his trademark snarkiness but with a little more restraint and focus as his character evolves into his intelligence role throughout the film. Jake Busey is a little more of a comedic character with brief moments of action clarity. Michael Ironside definitely is the strong leader type, along with Clancy Brown.

  

In a vision of a distant future, Paul Verhoeven takes military combat to a whole new level. The young recruits had no idea what they were getting into, though neither did the federation. The attack on Klendathu turned out to be a disaster, particularly for Johnny. After his mistake during training camp left him distraught over the loss of a teammate and lashed in the back as punishment, his attempted heroics in the battle on Klendathu leave him damaged but hardened. The brute force, which mimics some of the fears between real world conflicts in modern society, fails to meet its desired goals, which forces the federation to find a new approach. The search for the brain bug serves as a more strategic play against an alien force that lacks complex thought.

  

The presentation of this film is truly interesting. While the graphics and the fight scenes have their own colorful exciting moments, the film takes an almost comic-like visual with periodic flashes into news segments. As the story moves on, the segments go from suggestions to join the military to news about the oncoming war to scientific developments in the war on the bugs. There is always an military screen over every one of the messages, but all of them help to highlight the important issues taking place in each chapter. In thinking about the action and the graphics, there are some rather fake-looking elements, including the splattering of the bugs (which all seem to be filled with colorful liquids). The acting is also a little overly dramatic at time, but it fits the campy style of the film.

Starship Troopers is a great cult sci-fi film that includes a number of intriguing presentation elements and a strong combination of action and humor.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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