DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoven
May Contain Spoilers!
January 1998: The mega-blockbuster that was Titanic had just arrived in cinemas, and I had seen it the night before. We wanted to see it again the next night but felt that was just a bit over the top, but it still didn’t stop me seeing it a total of FOUR times before the year was out, but this isn’t a review of Titanic, this is a review of the antidote. Starship Troopers.
The premise seemed to be ludicrous, as mankind was embroiled in an intergalactic war with giant bugs. But it worked and it worked well. There was gore, nudity and hammy dialogue but there was also a solid satirical streak running throughout the entire movie. The heroes are fascists! Humans are slowly invading the galaxy and citizenship is everything.
All this though, fits into the mold of Beverly Hills 90210! The troopers are all ‘pretty people’ who are about to be dropped into the horrors of war. But helped along by the rousing score by the late Bazil Poladorous, and at the time, some breathtaking visuals, not least the CGI bugs themselves, the bombastic themes of war and duty are played out the fullest effect.
The pacing is excellent, moving from one set piece to another, with action, humour, black comedy and satire all flowing in the same direction and to beat of the same drum. The film is also fragmented with interludes which come in the form of news broadcasts promoting the state and in a very similar vein to Verhoven’s other masterpiece, Robocop, demonstrating the power of propaganda.
Verhoven has stated that he didn’t like the original source novel by Robert A. Heinlein, which was more of a genuine fascist recruitment manifesto than pure open minded sci-fi novel, but it is considered to be one of the greats, and even though he was not faithful to this in its entirety, he has managed to satire it brilliantly, twisting it back on itself.