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STARSHIP TROOPERS(director: Paul Verhoeven; screenwriters: Ed Neumeier/based on the book by Robert A. Heinlein; editors: Mark Goldblatt/Caroline Ross; cast: Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), Ace Levy (Jake Busey), Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), Zander (Patrick Muldoon), Sgt. Zim (Clancy Brown), Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside); Runtime: 129; TriStar Pictures; 1997)
I don’t think you’ll get much bang for your money out of this sophomoric satire.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This sci-fi work based on a book by Robert Heinlein and directed by Paul Verhoeven can be seen either as a straight gung-ho war film, or as a spoof. Anyway you watch it won’t require too much gray matter. You might find this film entertaining if you are a fan of MTV. If you are like me you might “think” that this film is so bad that it really couldn’t be this bad — that I must be missing something. But this movie is that bad, despite the high production costs and recognizable director.

If there are any good parts, it might be in the occasional sardonic one-liner; such as, one soldier telling the hero of the story, “You’re good at killing bugs.” This came after a big battle between the two opposing armies, which is filmed via computer graphics. Another good one-liner has a military instructor telling the troops training under him: “If you don’t do your job, I’ll shoot you.”

This misguided effort got carried away with the cartoon characters it has stereotyped, going for an overkill in its military spoof. The film becomes about killing the bugs who have invaded and destroyed Buenos Aires. That’s the city where all our hero kids come from. The mindless story traces a bunch of high school graduates and their dedicated teacher (Michael Ironside), as they all join the military to get revenge on those who destroyed their hometown.

I guess the film is set in the future, but it looks like the present to me despite all the computer graphics.

After awhile, all the performers looked and talked alike.

The love story goes something like this: Rico (Casper Van Dien), the high school football hero, loves Carmen (Denise Richards), the school beauty and math brain. She is set on becoming a pilot, which is the reason Rico joins the military. But Carmen falls for her co-pilot, a dude named Zander (Patrick Muldoon). The other love story involves Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), a female football jock and an attractive filly. She’s in love with Rico, but he spurns her. But persistence pays off, as she joins him in the infantry. The rivalry between Rico and Zander is about as thrilling as having a spider crawl up your leg. There is also some kind of mumbo-jumbo talk about the difference between a citizen and a civilian. We learn that a citizen does his duty by joining the military and protecting the “Federation”, a civilian goes to Harvard and then makes lots of money. Rico’s folks want him to go to an Ivy League college.

This film plays as a repeat of WW11, but in outer space. After Buenos Aires gets destroyed, the infantry is sent to the outer limits of the galaxy to get even with the invaders. But in this film we are supposed to be rooting for the fascists. I guess this goes for a joke the director is playing (ha-ha). There’s also supposed to be fun in all the carnage taking place.

I don’t think you’ll get much bang for your money out of this sophomoric satire.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”