Friday, February 10, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #49: "Starship Troopers" (1997)

Movie Stats:
Released 1997 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Paul Verhoeven
Stars - Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, and many others

Plot Summary:
In the 22nd century, the survival of the human race is threatened by attack from an alien race of bug-like creatures; three friends join the federation military after graduating high school to fight for the cause. Van Dien stars as Johnny Rico; Meyer as Dizzy Flores; Richards as Carmen Ibanez; and Busey as Ace Levy.

Extreme violence; extreme gore; minor blue language; female nudity (breasts and butt); male nudity (butt only); heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
Most of the acting is subpar. Richards is the worst of the lot.

I prefer my action movies to be succinct, so I think it’s too long. They could have cut out at least one “everybody gets killed by insect-like aliens” scene.

Dizzy is a pretty cool, badass female character. Having “I got to have sex with Johnny” be her life’s grandest achievement really grated on my nerves. (Also, she was repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of her less talented male counterparts, something NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT.) By the way, her character is a man in the source material. I don’t know if he had a death scene, but if he did, I doubt he died happy because he got to bang Johnny.**

Good Stuff:
The way it handles exposition is very clever.

It has a great, subversive, dark sense of humor.

The special effects have held up remarkably well.

The Verdict:
I never liked this film before, so I have to admit that I was dreading having to watch it again. I’m not sure why I always disliked it so much. It’s one of those movies that everyone I know loves and I’m sitting here going, “I don’t get it.” I won’t claim to completely get it now, but I get it more than I used to. In a dark way, this flick is pretty funny, and its subtle jabs at a certain kind of political system (sadly not unlike the one the people currently in power in the U.S. would love to have) are well done. It’s a pretty solid, if extremely violent, action film. I still have problems with it, but I no longer hate it.

I give it 3.5 stars.

**I just discovered that Dizzy isn't the only character that received a "facelift" from book to movie. In the book, Johnny's real first name is Juan and he's of Filipino decent, definitely not a blond-haired, blue-eyed all-American type.


Patricia said...

Here's a move from my early adulthood! I believe I watched this with college boyfriend John, (though we were post-college at that point). I think we took the Red Line to the theaters in Quincy to see this. I LOVED the depiction of a genderless society, but I see that perhaps some things escaped my 90s-self about that genderless society. I also thought the propoganda about bugs was spot-on.

I've even read the "controversial source material" aka the book on which it's based. I remember little, except learning the difference between people in the army who become leaders of the grunts--something about they are a different kind of officer. (Military stuff doesn't stick with me.) Also that the main character developed the ability to fall asleep anywhere as a part of his traning.

I liked this movie when I saw it, but I'm not sure if it would hold up today.

balyien said...

Despite its flaws, I think it's aged well, but it's certainly no masterpiece.