Saturday, February 8, 2014

Starship Troopers: Invasion

  Starship Troopers: Invasion, the franchise's side-movie. (Note the lack of a number in the title...) It looks nothing like the previous movies, sadly, taking on more of a Halo look and design. Who can blame them though? This one takes place almost entirely in space, and on starships. Is Invasion a bad one? Not really. If that's not the rousing self-assured answer you were hoping for... too bad. Invasion suffers the pitfalls of the second movie, and then some. Wooden acting is replaced by wooden CGI (a complaint mainly limited to facial expressions to be fair) and again any satirical edge is completely absent. This is a movie about two things, troopers and bugs. They spend the movie killing each other. I do have to admit, the story is better than I thought it'd be, and the characters end up being fun to watch- so if anything... this is, well, not bad.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

  "It's a good day to die!" says the propaganda in the movie, yet I'd argue it's a good day to let the franchise die instead. If that sounded like a disheartening first line, well, you're right... but not entirely. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder blasts it way onto home video with quite a bang, in my opinion. First, and foremost, this movie marks the return of Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico. Colonel... Johnny Rico. Van Dien came under fire in reviews of the first movie as being wooden and in general, a sore point of the movie. Personally, I felt his soap opera-esque performance fit the tone of the satire quite well. I think people missed that point. Which was intentional, so sayeth the director. Who knew though that people would get so hyped about his return to the franchise? Only one movie away and already he was sorely missed.

  I can't say that Marauder is head and shoulders above Hero of the Federation, but hot damn I wish I could. People didn't realize how badly Starship Troopers would miss Casper Van Dien, and apparently the makers of Marauder didn't realize how badly they needed better special effects. Van Dien alone isn't enough to sell this movie 100%. The CGI bugs in Marauder look awful, in a word. They're plastic-y and they move like archaic video game graphics. One tends to forget how bad they are in comparison to the overall forgettable 2nd movie, but geez. Rewatching the 2nd one made me respect it a little more, due to the fact their CGI was admittedly on point, and looking very good. By contrast, Marauder's CGI looks like crap. No way around it. That seriously harms this movie. Because amazing to at the very least, decent special effects have been the hallmark of this franchise. Not good acting, or good stories. People like the bugs, and seeing them slaughter the troopers. Which looks... odd here.

  The return of Johnny Rico is cause to be excited. He looks like he's back in his element, and the movie is better off for it.Van Dien lends a bit of seriousness to this movie as without him, I feel like it'd be a bad joke. This is an effects heavy movie, but their computer generated effects aren't so hot. They instead rely more on animatronics and practical effects to achieve their goals. Those effects are actually pretty damn good. It's a shame the warrior bug looks like a computerized toy by comparison. There is more of what you loved about the first movie in this one though. Johnny Rico shouting his lines "C'mon you apes! You wanna live forever?"
and leading the charge against the bugs, decked out in the classic Mobile Infantry armor. You can't help but smile and get this warm and fuzzy blast of nostalgia when you see this. Whenever they're in the thick of things, shooting bugs, I have no issues with the movie. It excels whenever Rico is the main focus. Oddly enough, the same can be said about the original honestly.

  However, the supporting cast of Marauder isn't fun to watch. Most of these actors are even slightly annoying. None of them have the charisma that Casper Van Dien brought back to the franchise. At best, they're passable, at worst, they make it feel like a SyFy movie of the week. Ugh. I do have to give props to Stephen Hogan who plays Sky Marshal Omar Anoke. He has all the charm of a televangelist, and none of the good intentions. This guy oozes weird, and his on screen presence just gives you the willies. You can't tell if he's just a bureaucratic sleazeball, or a fame junkie, or if something more is going on. His presence certainly adds something to the movie. Whether or not that something pays off in a satisfactory manner or not... eh. However he is the (only) other actor of note in this movie. It strikes me funny that most of the actors playing troopers in this movie, were probably teenagers or preteens when Starship Troopers came out. It's not a stretch to imagine more than a few were fans, and getting to act alongside Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico? That must've been awesome. In a way that mirrors the movie as well. Hundreds of young M.I. Troops getting to fight alongside the legendary Col. Johnny Rico? Talk about a morale boost.

  Starship Troopers 3 tries hard to replicate the tone and scope of the original. Sadly, it just... can't. Budgetary restraints hold this movie back and almost cripple it. Despite having two million more to work with than it's predecessor, that's still only 9 million dollars. (Compared to Starship Troopers 100 million budget) For that, this movie was rather exceptional. They put a lot of money into sets and practical effects and those things were, visually, the highlight of the movie. All in all, Marauder is an easy movie to compare to Hero of the Federation because Marauder seems to be a direct response to the negative criticism of the first sequel. Hero of the Federation was lacking any sort of satirical edge, it lacked any familiar characters, the tone was very claustrophobic and the scope was confined. Marauder was almost the exact opposite. It brought back the satire, brought back hero Johnny Rico, the tone reverts back to a big war movie, and the scope was opened up considerably.  The tradeoff is obviously the special effects. Hero of the Federation had effects on par with the first movie, Starship Troopers 3 has CGI on par with... well, a SyFy movie of the week. I hate to bring up those crap-fests twice in one review, but... damn.

  My next point is the satire. They try too hard here, and often miss the point. The satirical commercial breaks in the first movie gave you a slick insight into this warped and fascist society. They'll censor a cow being butchered, but seconds later they'll eagerly show you the mangled and bloodied corpses of hundreds of mormon colonists. It was fascist propaganda. In Marauder, they play it all for silly laughs. Aside from one or two moments of spot-on satire, a lot of it seemed to be handled by people who didn't quite... get it. Clever and perverse propaganda is often reduced to sex jokes or slapstick ridiculousness.  Not to mention the movie's shoehorned and absurd stab at satirizing religion. The entire last act revolves around religion, and frankly... it's awkward and uncomfortable, because clearly, the makers had no idea how to do it properly. The whole point of satirizing something is not to make it look goofy, but to kinda sell it how it is, but showing how inherently silly it is. Like fascism, and propaganda ads. They miss the mark so badly with their take on religion and come off like amateurs fumbling around in Paul Verhoeven's sandbox.

  Marauder is truer to the first movie, and it's not entirely bad! It can be fun at time, no lie. Yet, in it's ambition, it stumbles. Which is unfortunate, because better effects and a stronger third act could've made this movie miles better. It does however mark the return of Johnny Rico, which makes this a must-see for fans, but I don't think anybody else could regret missing this movie. Just play the game, or watch the first movie. Maybe even read the book! Yet there is a certain unmistakable charm to this movie. It's ambition and goals place it head and shoulders above most DTV sequels, it's attempts to remain true to the original place it way above Hero of the Federation, and the return of square-jawed Johnny Rico make it the only true sequel thus far to the sci-fi juggernaut of the late-90's, Starship Troopers. So if you're dying to see a proper... ish (at least, well intentioned) Starship Troopers sequel, and you don't mind some clunky CGI- I suggest you 'Join up now!', 'Do your part!', and watch Starship Troopers 3: Marauder!

Lord knows I've recommended worse movies before...

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Flintstones

  Taking a one movie hiatus from my impromptu Starship Troopers reviewing marathon, I decided to pop in an old VHS tape, recently acquired from a thrift store. So old in fact, one could call it... prehistoric.  Maybe not literally that old, but those good ol' puns seem to write themselves in this clever, chuckle-filled piece of 90's nostalgia.  Rolling it's way back into my life, straight out of my childhood, last seen some 15-odd years ago... I had almost forgotten all about this odd (not-so-)little movie. The theme song is catchy as ever and The Flintstones are faithfully brought to the big screen in this, live-action, larger than life sitcom presented by... "Stephen Spielrock".  It even says so on the cover. I guess I never really stopped to think how strange this might be to some people. Including people who very well might not have ever known there was a live action Flintstones. Let alone two. However, one can hardly hate on this movie seeing as how it does exactly what you would expect. It is a live action version of the beloved 1960's cartoon. That's more than just a description, it's a summary, and a compliment. Yet basically, this movie is nothing more than a novelty...

  Adapting cartoons into movies was never a solid business. Masters of the Universe didn't fare so well, Speed Racer had mixed reviews, and I could keep listing epic misfires like this for a while. Yet alot of these movies have found a cult following. Speed Racer most notably. I see no reason why The Flintstones can't have it's own quaint little cult following.  It's not a bad movie per se, it's just kind of a puzzling one. I can imagine a lot of money was invested in this movie, and surprisingly it made it back. Yet it received a critical whipping upon it's release. For a long time not even audiences spoke fondly of this movie. Yet as I was digging through some internet forums threads about this movie, I found more people than not defending this movie. Whether it was because of the spot-on casting choices, or purely nostalgic reasons, people were sticking up for The Flintstones.

  As a movie it was never destined to be revered in the annals of famous comedies, nor was it going to pull down any serious accolades for special effects. It was intended to be a piece of nostalgia for fans of the cartoon. A novelty. "Hey look at this! They really brought it to life!" In 1994, fans of the 1960's cartoon would be well into adulthood. I have no doubt many of them thought it was a neat idea, or blasphemous. Yet it seems like the makers of this movie forgot that the cartoon persisted to find a young audience. The children's fanbase was just as big. There were tie-in toys, McDonalds' specials, et cetera. Yet so much of this movie is simply not for kids. It's for the thirty somethings who at the time were around when the cartoon was first airing. The movie's plot would sail clear over any kid's head. Mother-in-law problems? Cutbacks? Getting laid off? Embezzlement schemes? Infidelity? The Incredibles springs to mind as another movie that deals with all this stuff, yet it handles it delicately. With subtle suggestions and finesse.

  Halle Berry in a skimpy bikini crawling across Fred's (played by John Goodman) desk, trying to seduce him isn't exactly something for the whole family to see. This movie is played for laughs, as Fred's tie snaps and curls up, gawking at this seductress crawl about on his desk. You can tell the whole movie has a very grown-up tone. It'd be uncomfortable if I had to watch that with my kids. People would seriously object if that was in the cartoon, and now I know this is one of the reasons my parents had issues with me seeing this as a little kid. I'd say a good 90% of all the laughs to be had, would be lost on anyone under 13. It's a shame then that a movie like this was unavoidably be pandered to all ages. This isn't Disney, folks. A character in the movie actually points that out. He laments, 'I should've signed with Disney, they never would've made me do this'. Much can be said about a lot of content in the movie, though it's not as racy as I'd make it out to be, it's simply not a kids movie either.

  Disney has a knack for blink-and-you'll-miss-it innuendo, yet The Flintstones isn't so graceful. I suppose one could easily make a pun here, likening the movie to a boulder or a rock since neither are graceful either, and if you would laugh at a pun like that, congratulations, you'll probably like this movie too. That's not a bad thing, mind you. I like the movie too. I chuckled to myself as Fred and family went to the drive in, and the sign outside read: "George Lucas' TAR WARS". This movie is all about the pop-culture references, the in-jokes, the innuendo and the puns. OH the puns! They come cheaper than a dime a dozen here, but they're also handled quite well. I'm not too familiar with the director, but he knows how to play the dumbest pun for straight laughs. It works. What more can I say?

  The casting is rather brilliant I think. Goodman is simply the perfect Fred, and Moranis is a spot-on Barney. They both do the voices with ease, as if they'd been practicing for a lifetime. They find a good balance between full-on cartoonish panache and self-aware nods. Rosie O'Donnell as Betty is something of a serious issue... for some people. I thought she did fine. Most complain about the actress being too heavy for the role of such a skinny character. Or that she's a terrible actress and a horrible person. On one hand I get it, I wouldn't want someone I hated playing a character I loved. Yet, A, most of these people simply wanted Betty to have sex appeal, and B, the rest just don't like O'Donnell. I fall into neither category. This movie did not need sex appeal of any sort, and I have nothing against O'Donnell. Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma was great, and the rest of the cast was as well, great. If you wanted to see the Flintstones brought to life, this is the best cast you could hope for. They do amazingly well. All of them seem to really put heart into their roles, whereas this could've been a 'paycheck' movie for some, with phoned in performances. Surprisingly and thankfully, that's not the case.

  If only the Scooby-Doo movie was this good. By comparison, The Flintstones is head and shoulders above it in terms of how faithful it was to the source material. The makers involved seem to have a real affection for the cartoon, yet I wonder why they made it so adult since the cartoon was so innocent. Did they miss the mark? Not entirely, but the movie exists as an oddity. It's too child-like to go in the regular Comedy section of the video store, and too Adult to go in the Family section. Yet, because it's based on a cartoon, it will inevitably go in the Family section. This is an issue for the movie as I believe it's ideal audience is one that would rediscover it now. People my age who remember when this came out in the 90's. People who still get a kick out of these live action cartoon-based movies. A forgiving and nostalgic audience is what this movie deserves, and as it happens, that's the category I fall into. Yabba dabba- d'oh, you know how it goes.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation

  Well. I certainly didn't expect to like this movie upon my second viewing in the past five years. However... string me up and give me ten lashes, I did. I liked it. Nobody could be more surprised than me. I kid you not. I saw this movie ages and ages ago. I rented it from a Hollywood Video along with Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, and had a double feature that night. I was not fond of this one. Yeah, it was gory and there were the trademark bugs but... it was lacking, in my opinion. In fact, I think it still is. It's thin. Starship Troopers doesn't function well without some sort of political or society commentary. It becomes just an inert, and hollow piece of sci-fi. Which is ultimately what Hero of the Federation is. Inert and hollow. Yet as much as it is nothing like the 1997 sci-fi blockbuster, helmed by the maestro of satire-action movies, Paul Verhoeven, it's not a bad movie when all is said and done.

  It's paper thin budget shows sometimes. Yet go figure, the CGI in this movie is head and shoulders above the third movie. I don't even know how that happened. I don't really wanna look at the budgets. It's just unfair. The worst part about the third movie, is the CGI. The best part about this one, is the effects. This is actually probably one of the last good DTV movies. It gets bashed like no other, and trust me, I understand. However, this is not bad. There are a few big mistakes it makes, one is the dialog. Some of it is just... nails on a damn chalkboard. Secondly, there are too many annoying characters. Especially that Psi-Ops guy. I was really hoping he'd die in the first half hour. No such luck. Third is the story. This is also where the budget shows. They had to confine the plot to a single location, which in effect, robs the movie from having the satirical elements it needed to thrive.

  You'll notice the movie is bookended by the franchise's trademark propaganda commercials, yet there's none throughout the film. Because in the first movie, those commercials would serve as a bridge, transitioning from one scene/location, to something else happening elsewhere. Starship Troopers 2 all takes place in one location, focuses on a very singular and small scale story. But by god, they worked with what they had. I guess the biggest problem with this movie is that it feels like it only needs to be thirty minutes. It feels like it could be absolved into a bigger movie because it's so thin on it's own. Yet that doesn't mean there aren't some awesome action sequences, some creative horror situations, and some fun one-liners. I get why people were so sore over this movie, but I think it was a collective over-reaction. It's nowhere near as bad as people, even myself made it out to be.

  The movie has a fair share of decent actors, and it makes use of them for the most part. However it's fairly obvious the movie is padded out to the max. It's a survival horror movie, best likened to movies like Resident Evil or Alien Resurrection. I know those are harsh and confusing comparisons for a movie I just said wasn't bad, but look at the scores. Resident Evil currently holds a 6.7 (out of a possible ten) on imdb. Alien Resurrection has a 6.3. Starship Troopers 2? Has a staggering 3.4. It's not that bad. Honestly. There have been many times I've been flipping through channels on TV, found Alien Resurrection and just watched it for a bit. It's a disappointing movie in the grand scheme of things, but it's not painful to watch or anything. That underwater scene is awesome as well. Hero of the Federation has a handful of decent and creative things in it. Stuff I'd argue elevates this movie above either of the other aforementioned movies.

  If you're in the right mindset, with the right expectations, it can be fun. If this was the pilot for a TV show for instance, nobody would be bitching. I think what sets it at a disadvantage is how distant it is from the first movie, yet it tries to keep connections and a continuity, despite not having any returning characters.  Starship Troopers was a sci-fi/satire, Starship Troopers 2 is a sci-fi/horror. So very very different when you dig into it. I suppose the bookends of propaganda were just tacked on to pay homage to Verhoeven, but... I never felt like they really worked. All in all, there are better DTV sequels, but don't be fooled this isn't one of those godawful ones. It's a serviceable action/horror movie with a familiar theme. It's still soldiers vs. giant alien space bugs. But in a very different tone. Much more like Aliens, but at the same time... not. It's not a great movie, or even a particularly good one, but damn. It's no 3.4 either. The amount of practical effects and creativity that went into somethings here deserve a fair shake.

  I'll reign in the sequel bashing whenever Hero of the Federation comes up in conversation in the future. It deserves, at least, that much. Yet being as thin as it is, I can't possibly write up a longer review. The content of the movie dictates the body of a review, and this one was rather anorexic, sadly. Edit: (2/5/2014) In retrospect, no matter how much I enjoyed this one, which was marginal at best, it was still disappointing. Starship Troopers pulled down good money at the box office and a lot of people liked it, it's very baffling to me that this is the best sequel anybody could come up with. On the other hand, it does funnel plenty of new and interesting ideas into the franchise, although those ideas seem born of budget constraints and necessity, not creativity. Hero of the Federation is a mixed bag for sure, it's a bad sequel, but not a bad movie. It's above average with it's special effects and action scenes, which I found more enjoyable than your average DTV dreck, yet at the same time... it's still a bad sequel. Take that as you will.

Starship Troopers (The Game)

  If there's anything that the 1997 sci-fi satire sold to it's audiences in spades, it was how friggin awesome the concept of soldiers vs. giant alien bugs was. It's not as if the concept hasn't been around for eons, but Starship Troopers, both the original novel, and it's subsequent franchise of spin-offs and adaptions have really cornered the market on it. However, most visible out of all the iterations and adaptions and what-have-you was the 1997 movie. In an era where video games were flourishing and the industry was booming, it was only a small leap to imagine what it would be like... stepping into the boots of a Mobile Infantry trooper, and killing some bugs. Only, a movie based game wouldn't come out in the late nineties. Thankfully, one didn't come out until 2005. I say thankfully because the graphics and gaming engines required to faithfully present the overwhelming swarms of arachnid Warrior Bugs wasn't available back in the 90's. The 2000's however...

  When I would hear of a Starship Troopers game, I wanted to 'join up!' Hell, I wanted to 'do my part!'Honestly, I just wanted to shoot alot of giant alien bugs. I played Lost Planet for a while back on the PS3, and I thought, "Heyyy this is the closest I'm gonna get to a Starship Troopers game!" Then I played Borderlands, in which you have to fight some giant arachnids at a few points in there. I thought, "Heyyy this is even better. Even closer to Starship Troopers!" Yet clearly, watching the movie inspired a desire to suit up in that body armor, and shoot some of those bugs, in that world. I'm making it very clear how quickly I tired of substitutes and how very very badly I wanted an actual Starship Troopers game. Now, I had a fortunate turn of events a while ago, and I was blessed with a decent gaming computer. Thus I began a hunt for all the PC games I never got to play on my Playstations 2 and 3. Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Left 4 Dead 2, and others. Only recently, did I remember, "Oh shit! A Starship Troopers game exists!"

  I found... a way to get it, and I went through hell trying to install it and fix it and tweak it to work right- but I did and it was Christmas morning all over again. I'm pretty sure I would've heard an angelic choir denoting the moment in the background if I wasn't so knee deep in bug carcasses, going deaf from the sound of my own Morita MK 1 assault rifle... It's remotely possible that I'm... slightly exaggerating. However, suffice it to say, I was a happy camper. The game does one thing exceptionally well: give you bugs to shoot. It captures the feeling of the movie with massive, eye-popping swarms of arachnids coming after you to rip you limb from limb. It's up to you to lock and load and start spouting movie quotes. "C'mon you apes, you wanna live forever?" Furiously clicking away on the mouse as the bugs close in, you feel like a real M.I. trooper. Well, short of actually being in one of the movies anyways. Anybody who wanted a game based on this movie, wanted to shoot bugs. We weren't looking for complex level design and intellectual gameplay. We wanted to shoot bugs. Lots of bugs. This game, if anything at all, lets you do that.

  Unfortunately... this doesn't exactly mean it's a good game. As far as gaming itself goes, this has it's fair share of issues. For one, the bugs aren't nearly as tough as they were in the movie. It took a regular arachnid warrior all of two seconds flat to kill an average trooper. Slice, bite, impale, stab, decapitate. Whatever your preferred means of death was, the bug was happy to accommodate you. Yet in the game, you can get hit like thirty times and not be dead. Bullshit! I call bullshit! Not to mention, it's also really easy to kill the standard arachnid warriors. With the regular assault rifle you're given, it takes only a few short bursts to put one down for good. Dead. Bullshit! MORE bullshit! In the movie it took like three to four troopers, firing consistently, a good thirty to forty seconds to kill one of these things. You feel WAY too powerful. I can imagine this is to make up for a lack of co-operative A.I. in any of the other troopers. You're called a "Marauder" in the game, which means you're like a mega badass. I think this was supposed to explain why you're essentially a one man army going Commando on the entire arachnid empire... but it's a cheap excuse.

  Those are very big flaws. The game does seem kind of like it was made in a hurry, and on a tight budget too. Part of the problem of coming out in 2005 was how out of the blue it was. I can't imagine it got a lot of support or funding. Starship Troopers came out two years shy of a decade earlier, and the 2004 sequel was a direct-to-video dud that nobody much liked. At all. So... there wasn't exactly a demanding market for this game. Even at the height of the franchise's popularity, I can't imagine a proper Starship Troopers movie game would garner much interest anyways. This arrived and died without so much as a death rattle to bid the spotlight farewell. I guess you can call it a cult hit now since fans seem to like it a lot. Why is that? Because the game, despite it's glaring issues, manages to faithfully emulate the big bug wars of the movies.

  It takes a few levels right from the first movie, more or less. The important ones anyways. Plasma mountain, the compound on Tango Urilla, etc etc. Details and settings have been swapped around so it's not like you're playing -the- movie, but you'll find some locations incredibly familiar. As a fan, I could do nothing but flash a big smile and enjoy it. The game also introduces alot of new bugs. Which in concept (and proof if you count 99% of all the shitty video game movie tie-ins and adaptions) could be dumb if handled improperly. However, they strike gold more often than not, serving up fresh and unique challenges that expands on the movie's world, not screws with it. I think they get sorta carried away with the different Warrior bug types, but that's not even really a fully formed complaint. It's just kinda like... Really. A new one? Again? No biggie though. It's still loads of fun to run around with the troops, hold the front lines, clear out a few bases, and well... kill bugs. Kill em' all. Not gonna lie, the game isn't great. Barely qualifies as good, if at all. But, by god, it's fun. Infectiously fun. Ridiculously fun. It's "Kill em' all!" fun, it's one-liner, boot stomping, "Nuke em' Rico!"-fun.

  You won't find a better 'Troopers game. They may make another one someday. I doubt it. So for now, if you wanna kill some bugs, save the world, and be a hero... I suggest you Join up! Do your part! Enlist in the mobile infantry! They have the ships, they have the weapons, all they need now is troopers like Lieutenant Johnny Rico, Captain Carmen Ibanez, Private Ace Levy, Captain V.J. Dax, and YOU. So if you think you have what it takes to be a citizen, join up now and play Starship Troopers, the game!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Starship Troopers

  While I realize Starship Troopers isn't the masterpiece I've often wished it was, that doesn't mean it's not a damn fine piece of entertainment nonetheless. It's a tongue in cheek satire that's often at odds with it's sci-fi extravaganza nature. In a way. Director Paul Verhoeven strikes a balance of cliche, cheese, sincerity, and big budget spectacle that's honestly rather infectious. On one hand, the makers of Starship Troopers would like you to think the movie is an intelligent and clever satire about fascism and war... And on the other hand, it is a satire about communism and war, but it's hardly intelligent and sparingly is it ever clever. It's far too on the nose to be clever. Which leaves most people thinking it's a shallow piece of big budget dreck.

  There was a time I would argue tirelessly against those people, who are still kinda wrong, but I slowly realized that this movie's appeal will never lie in the satire. When I sit down to recommend this movie to a friend, the first thing I always talk about is the action and special effects. There's something about seeing hundreds of soldiers in their well designed, Nazi-esque, futuristic, combat armor fighting giant alien bugs that is simply loads of fun. It appeals to the young boy in me who would love drawing stuff like that all the time. Space soldiers versus giant alien bugs? Sold! Try pitching that to a more matured crowd. "Oh hey, this movie with the space soldiers fighting the giant bugs? Yeah it's also a satire." You're gonna get a lot of unsure sidelong stares.

  You can't market this movie to anyone outside of the group of people who're only coming for the special effects and the violence. It just doesn't work like that. The massive droves of preteens that saw and loved Starship Troopers have grown up to appreciate the satire and such because they've seen it so many times. They find new things to love about it. And the ones who haven't discovered the satirical elements, see this as a legitimate war movie. A personal friend of mine holds this movie in the same regard as Full Metal Jacket. If you gave him a chance, he'd personally sign up for the mobile infantry. Which... is basically what the movie is preaching against. Yet, all the good looking, cookie cutter heroes in the movie, that we're encouraged to root for... are in the mobile infantry. They march around with gusto and military pride, the blast their way through thousands of killer aliens, and they look good doing it. Go ahead. Convince a 13 year old kid that these guys are the assholes.

  For a movie that's trying to say these guys are essentially heartless Nazis... isn't doing a good job convincing the only audience it has of that. There were even action figures and toys released to tie in with the movie. Even further undermining it's shred of intelligence and wit. Yet, all that is irrelevant. Why? Because these cool space soldiers are fighting giant alien bugs! Some can bite a grown man in half! Some have wings that can cut your head clean off! Some spray fiery acid from their head! ...aaaand therein lies the lasting appeal of Starship Troopers. Not the wit, not the satire... the special effects and gore. I hate to say it, because the satirical elements are what make this movie worth watching, but without it's slick, polished, bloody counterparts in it's war scenes and special effects... it wouldn't be memorable at all. This is how it is. Simply because it's done so damn well. It has the kitsch of an 80's B-movie, but the budget of a Roland Emmerich movie. The war scenes are fantastically entertaining, in fact, all the action scenes are and when you're old enough to get it, the satirical side of the movie provides something to chew on intellectually.

  The movie excels on a technical level. The special effects are a wise and timeless blend of cgi, animatronics and miniatures. Just like Jurassic Park, some of this stuff is still breathtaking in scope and scale. It looks fantastic, and even looks fantastic in hi-definition. Plenty of 90's effects-heavy movies don't hold up well, and even less so under the unforgiving scrutiny of HD. Not this flick. Starship Troopers passes with flying colors and holds up it's one lasting appeal with gusto and pride. The action, the effects, the war and gore- it's all never looked better than it has on Blu Ray disc. This is a movie that will be called "mindless" and "empty" and while it's not, it might as well be. I'm too busy gawking at the effects, and sitting on the edge of my seat during the action scenes to even care anymore.

  What you have when all is said and done is a movie so blatantly and overtly satirical, that some people actually thought it was pro-fascism. When in reality, it's anything but. The military in this movie punishes with public lashings, their recruitment campaigns are bloated, patriotic, blind propaganda. The entire society encourages it's youth to sign up for a term of service and 'Do their part!', when in reality they're simply 'fresh meat for the grinder', as one triple-amputee infantryman put it. Teenagers are shuttled off to be slaughtered, en masse, fresh out of high school. In the first hour, our hero is making out with his girlfriend in the school hallways, winning football(-esque) games and worrying about his Math scores. In hour two? He's had to kill a man, lead soldiers to their death, and witness old classmates get torn limb from limb in this inane war. A war that's been implicitly suggested was started by humans being the initial aggressors, invading alien territory, and it seriously backfired. (Not like... that's history repeating itself or anything..) How is any of this pro-fascism? I guess the propaganda ads, "A SOCIETY THAT WORKS!" actually convinced a few reviewers. The weak minded run rampant. Sigh.

  Yet, in front of all the satire and propaganda is a big budget sci-fi war movie. There's no getting around that. I'll reiterate again, the special effects are amazing. The effects department expertly marry CGI with state of the art animatronics and large scale miniatures. The result is often nothing short of breathtaking, I kid you not. Starship Troopers couldn't look any better if it was made with today's technology. This is a movie from 1997 people. 1997. I'd argue the effects in this movie hold up better than in Jurassic Park. Why 'Troopers didn't receive more accolades for it's effects is beyond me. The creatures in this movie have weight and scale, they look like they inhabit the same world as the actors. They share the screen with fluidity and ease, in very few cases have any CGI creatures looked so natural as they do in this movie. Also worth mentioning is their design. It's wholly iconic. It's been adapted for movie canon stuff, (i.e. comics, games, etc) and book canon stuff. The design of the arachnid aliens is fantastic. For that matter, all the designs in this movie are fantastic. From the Troopers uniform, gear, and body armor to the look of the starships and dropships that usher them into war. It's all visually cohesive and good-looking. Top marks. I love it.

  Starship Troopers at it's most basic, is a silly and entertaining sci-fi romp about murderous alien bugs, and space soldiers with big guns who can shoot em' really well. At it's best, it's a razor sharp satire about fascist governments and wartime propaganda. If either of those descriptions strikes your fancy, odds are you'll like this movie. It's perfect Saturday matinee fodder. Full of blood, guts and gore, and even a fair share of nudity. It's crass, loud, and fun. If anything, that's what it should be remembered for. I'd rather watch it with a group of immature guys who're half drunk on their beer of choice, shouting and hollering at the screen when some poor trooper gets his head lopped off, or when some girl flashes her tits- because that's what this movie boils down to. Getting a kick out of that stuff. When I'm with my buddies, we act the same way. Bring in the popcorn, bring on the drink... c'mon you apes, you wanna live forever?