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When I watched it years ago when it came out, I do remember that there was some sort of debate on why would people like the film. Given that it could be read both as a dumbass, shoot the bugs, sci-fi C-movie with a bloated budget, or as a social satire in the cloak of a dumbass etc. etc., I went into the cinema with special attention to who would be there, how they are enjoying themselves, and for what reasons. And indeed… a majority of the teenagers in the theatre (wasn’t that a 18 certificate? Whatever became of parenting?) were cheering at every exploding bug head or severed limb, were bored or snickering at the more human interaction, and were really in for the action adventure. The more I despised them, the more I decided to like the film, maybe just to spite them for their ignorance, and kept defending the film and its director for its clever play with especially US-style patriotism, arrogance, ignorance and whatever other attribute comes to mind.

Watching it again now, all these years later… it is not as clever as it claimed to be, I admit. Of course the whole casting and production design is over the top (the pilot girl is ridiculously foolish-looking, the love interest is a college football player type… no, an ACTUAL college football player), almost comic style, with the hints at the post-intelligence world that has also (differently) been used by John Carpenter or (very differently) in the literary heritage of the 20th century dystopian novels. It is a goofy fun ride through a dumbed-down, interactive media future (“Do you want to know MORE?” click here…), with plenty of people dying because that’s the way conflicts are resolved in this version of the future: if you see an enemy, throw 100 000 ground troops at them, ignoring the possibility of viciously evolved creatures being very much superior when it comes to fighting on their home planet.

I am sure director Verhoeven had his sardonic fun as well as his feelings of satirical subversivism (word police, I confess I made that one up) when developing Starship Troopers, and it still looks good, I have to say. It will probably not become a classic of social satire the way Carpenter’s  Dark Star or (surprisingly, if you want my opinion) They Live are today. But it will stick around on home video, no doubt, and entertain us for many years.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/starship_troopers/

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2 Comments

  1. I actually just re-watched this the other day on Crackle. Was a bit more violent and moronic than I remembered from back in the day. NPH cracked me up as the intelligence officer. I took this film to be a dig at the ignorance of blanket patriotism, and the ingnorance high school kids under the cloak of a sci-fi film. Not a great film but a good watch just the same.

  2. I think how Verhoeven treated the high school topic is typical for the whole movie: it seems to be also a comment by a foreign observer looking into American habits and structures and mocking those that would seem most crazy to him – and high school life with all its rituals, institutions and procedures is a very good target for that form of satire. I think it’s one of these films that I will frequently come back to, even if I would not dare calling it a great film, either.


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  1. By Elle (Paul Verhoeven 2016) | thomas4cinema on 17 Mar 2017 at 11:03 am

    […] of items on his list that are unforgettable in their own way: Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers are eminently watchable and (at least I believe so) intellectually profound entertainment behemoths, […]

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