Starship Troopers Screen 8 articles

Starship Troopers

1997

Starship Troopers Poster
  • The militarized fascist utopia in Starship Troopers — presented mainly in the form of interactive recruiting commercials — is so sketchy that ironically its main virtue seems to be a leveling of class differences among the volunteer soldiers, the only citizens allowed to vote — though who or what any of them might vote for is anyone’s guess.

  • Starship Troopers remains both relevant and revelatory in our currently tenuous post-quasi-war environment. Get past the bugs, the blood, and the boyish phobias... and Starship Troopers remains perhaps the most affecting commentary on the interaction between the fictional tendencies of the news media and the blunt reality of war.

  • The subversive wit on display is startling... In the film, a war-mutilated high school history teacher walks about the classroom dead-seriously extolling the virtues of naked violence, officers wear Nazi headgear, troopers freely paraphrase Hitler, drill sergeants regularly mutilate their troops to make a training point, and whole scenes and hunks of dialogue are robbed from the paradigmatic colonialist melodrama Zulu (1964).

  • A commercial and critical flop upon its release, the virtues of Paul Verhoeven's satirical take on Robert Heinlein's Cold War sci-fi novel are stunningly clear in the context of 9-11 and the Iraq War. Few recent films tap into the underlying forces shaping today's world as piercingly as Verhoeven's vision of a thoroughly Americanized global civilization that exploits media and youth culture to wage endless war against an appointed enemy.

  • As usual in Verhoeven, any act of life is a playful form of sex-and-war sublimation, a fun, media-sanctioned dress rehearsal for fucking and killing; it’s an old Joe Eszterhas cliché Verhoeven makes new again by making his medium the media itself, a century of propaganda from Why We Fight to Ford Westerns to Beverly Hills 90210. But where those were PG fantasies of X-rated action, Verhoeven shows both to offer the full repercussions...

  • At first, few knew what to make of it. A soapy, brainless space opera with Hollywood’s toothiest young stars, or a startlingly prophetic indictment of military policy? Hey, why not both? Informed by Verhoeven’s memories of Nazi-occupied Holland, plus screenwriter Ed Neumier’s satirization of the 1959 source novel’s pro-fascist stance, Starship Troopers is the garish outlier among the self-serious war tales of the 1990s.

  • I must admit to admiring Verhoeven’s serious films somewhat more than the blockbusters. Spetters (1980) is a gritty motorcycle racing movie that introduced Rutger Hauer to the screen. The 4th Man (1983) is his masterpiece, about a writer drawn into a vortex of seduction and murder. Almost as good is Basic Instinct (1992), another Hitchcockian homage. But I have watched Starship Troopers more often than any of these, both for its pop philosophy and for its inspired mayhem.

  • One of the most merciless satires of its time, Paul Verhoeven’s gung-ho, bug-squashing Reich-fest confused critics and audiences when it hit theaters in 1997; from the gruesome effects and rousing battle scenes to the insidiously quotable script (“Would you like to know more?”) and darkly stirring score, it’s just too damn well-made for its own good.

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