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.

  I don't like the design shift. I loved the visual aesthetics of the Mobile Infantry as it was. Their helmets, body armor, visual motifs. The designs in this movie feel like generic 'edgy' video game designs. Like someone whipped up a batch of ODST and misplaced them right into the Starship Troopers universe. Better body armor makes sense, mech suits make sense. Preserving the damn visual aesthetic makes sense too. Apparently they didn't want to. I know it's possible. Anything is possible except for them to get one of the movies movie right, from top to bottom. However... the best thing about Invasion is the sheer spectacle. Given the fact that it's a CGI movie, that affords them a bigger sandbox in which to play around in. They do make good use of the space setting, and extra good use of the zero gravity environments. Some moments made my jaw drop. Something which doesn't happen unless I'm watching the outpost sequence from the first movie. (Every... damn... time.)

  Maybe not preserving the design motifs is a fanboy gripe, but this is apparently supposed to follow continuity. I don't get it. Anyway, the CGI is a little stiff at times, and the dialog is trite, but the movie makes up or it in terms of sheer scope and action. However unlike the first and third movies, and much like the second, Invasion is claustrophobic and confined. All of it takes place on Starships and not on alien planets and in big expansive deserts. This I think made it hard for me to really get into. I like the alien planets and such. Those big barren deserts lent a perfect aesthetic to the bug wars. Invasion is cold and polished. It feels more like Aliens, and that's just not the way to go with a Starship Troopers movie. It irritates the hell out of me.  Yet, if you came for troopers vs. bugs, this movie doesn't disappoint. There's plenty of creative and exciting action scenes that highlight the movie, including the most exciting opening sequence from any of the movies.

  A lot of the novelty and flair of Starship Troopers is absent in this one, yet it manages to be it's own beast. Something that both sequels never fully invested in. Hero of the Federation was marred at every turn by budget restraints, and even it's story seemed born out of a small budget. Marauder tried it's damnedest to be like the first movie. Neither movie had the means or motivation to cut their own path.  Invasion actually does this. To an extent. It knows what it wants to be and it goes for it. Unfortunately, it's not high-concept sci-fi or anything intellectually engaging (which, a Starship Troopers movie, unbound by canon and continuity to the first three movies is MORE than capable of providing-) it's just a straight forward action movie. The action is good. It's fast, slick, explosive, and exciting. It even gives us some creative stuff we haven't seen before. However, at the end it feels like a demo reel of action scenes to show off, saying "Hey! Isn't this cool?". Yes, it is, but that's all it is.

  Invasion edges out the most re-watchable sequel because it's sheer action. It doesn't have the low budgeted restraints of Hero of the Federation, and it doesn't have the distressingly bad CGI of Marauder. It may or may not be the best sequel, but it's flawed liked the rest of them. It's a mixed bag, but a surprisingly watchable one that gets better as it goes. I'd like to own it eventually, but I don't consider it a priority. I also wouldn't buy it before 2 or 3. Yet if you're a completionist like me, you won't have any reservations about purchasing Invasion. It proves it's mettle with gusto and flair, and enough to at least outweigh it's flaws. Which include a total lack of any satirical elements. No propaganda abound in this one, not many quotable lines either. Just saying, kinda disappointing. However, to reiterate, the troopers vs. bug scenes here are plenty exciting. Sadly, in the end, this is a thin review- for a thin movie. There's not much to Invasion, and I fully believe there could've been. Ah well. Maybe next time?

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