Bugs in Space
"Starship Troopers" could be summed up by saying it is the good, the bad and the totally insane. The good is that after giving us the dodgy "Showgirls" director Paul Verhoeven returned to the Sci-Fi genre and gave us another full on futuristic action movie. That leads to the insane because of giant B-Movie bugs, B-Movie style info segments and mass mutilation where the more outrageous it is the more amusing it becomes. But then there is the bad and that is the cast of teen soap handsome actors whose acting is of the sort more suited to soap opera land; in a way it adds to the movies purposely B-movie feel but it is a sticking point. As such those who watch "Starship Troopers" having enjoyed Robert A. Heinlein novel on which it is based will probably end up crying whilst those who just want some cheesy, over the top action will find it entertaining.
Some time in the future the planet is at risk from an Alien breed of giant bugs and the military needs people to sign up to fight. High school friends Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien - Aces 'N' Eights), Dizzy (Dina Meyer), Carmen (Denise Richards - Love Actually) and Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) all sign up and join different divisions, going through the futuristic tough training. But when these Bugs stage a major attack they are all drawn into a full on war against these giant insects on their own planet.
Now this is going to sound very contradictory but "Starship Troopers" at 129 minutes long doesn't have a lot of story but then there is a lot which goes on. What I mean by this is that the overall storyline is simple as a futuristic military force try to eliminate the threat of destruction from a bug planet, there is little more to it than that. Yet this story is broken down into segments starting from 3 friends who are at school each of which join up even though in the case of Rico his parents don't want him to. We then get a training segment and a bit of heart break as relationships suffer before we then get what is little more than an hour of war. As I said there isn't really a big complex story but with it taking us from school, through training and into war there is a surprising amount going on.
But to be honest "Starship Troopers" was never going to be a movie with a lot of depth and a lot of depth from Heinlein's novel has been discarded. What you get in place is Verhoeven giving us a lot of futuristic action mixed with a lot of tongue in cheek humour and some moments of B-movie styling. Right from the opening scenes where we get a futuristic infomercial you know that humour is high on the agenda with its B-Movie feel. And that humour flows through out with more comical infomercials with brilliant voiceovers to comical shower scenes, larger than life characters and often the humorous way people end up dying. In fact whilst many of the deaths are surprisingly gruesome and in your face this is very much a movie which wants to make you cringe and laugh at the same time by being purposefully cheesy.
But whilst it succeeds in delivering scenes which make you cringe and laugh it is also an adrenalin packed ride into a futuristic B-Movie world. The various bugs we watch attack and be attacked are right out of an old B-Movie where giant insects threatened humanity and how some of them die is in B-Movie style. Yet this intentional cheesy styling works because you get gripped by the melee of action as bugs attack and laugh when they claim a victim yet laugh more when they become a victim.
The only trouble with "Starship Troopers" is the casting which on one hand is wrong yet on the other seems right. The wrong is that the likes of Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Dina Meyer and Neil Patrick Harris make it feel like some futuristic teen soap opera. And the acting through out is nothing more than you would expect from watching "90210", "Dawson's Creek" or "One Tree Hill", even the romantic sub plot wouldn't feel out of place. Yet in a way it almost seems right because the wooden acting and I am sure some of it was intentional, just adds to the intentionally cheesy, B-Movie feel.
What this all boils down to is that "Starship Troopers" is not a great Sci-Fi movie, it's not a great action movie either but it is good entertainment. From its B-Movie style through to the outrageous action and wooden entertaining it gets grip of you and makes you laugh. It is what it is, futuristic action fun made for the masses and the sort of movie you can watch, enjoy and wonder why you enjoyed it so much when it is so intentionally bad.