Casper v ANGRY SPACE BUGS!!!: Starship Troopers

I cannot tell a lie, part of the reason (well, almost all of the reason) for taking this idiotic series on was the presence of Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Man, I fucking LOVE these films- they’re everything that appeals to me: Sci-Fi, social commentary, big knuckleheaded yanks getting killed, gloriously stupid machismo, Darth Ironside, outstanding FX, gratuitous nudity and lots and lots of lovely explosions wrapped up in a nice big ball of awesome. I’ve been so beaten up by the first few in this series, I had to bump this one up the order a bit, as a reward for making it this far.

I may be about to go a bit picture happy here.

Boooooo! You suck Ibanez. Breaking Casper's heart like that.

Starship Troopers stars Casper Van Dien as Jonny Rico. Rico is a normal Buenos Aires kid who dreams of nothing more than porking his hot girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) and hanging out with his psychic mate Doogie Howser MD Carl Jenkins (Neal Patrick Harris). His friend at school Dizzy Flores is in love with him (he’s captain of the team and whatnot), and he seems to like Rasczak’s (Michael Ironside) history lessons about the collapse of democracy and the rights of citizens. His life, let’s be honest, is pretty fucking sweet all things considered. Upon graduation, he makes the decision to join the Mobile Infantry to be shipped off to the bug planet Klendathu to fight some extremely pissed of Arachnid’s (called, in a blazingly unsubtle piece of social commentary, Arachnis). Starship Troopers tells the story of his trip through boot camp, to their expeditions on Klendathu and their eventual battle on Planet P to catch a Brain Bug. What this actually amounts to is one of the most gung-ho films of the 1990’s, a rip-roaring fiesta of colour, violence, explosions, tits, stupid lines, and commentary so blatant that it’s like being smashed over the head with a brick wrapped in a copy of the Guardian.

Darth Ironside expects you to work hard, and play hard in his army. If you don't, well, he'll kill you himself.

Starship Troopers is basically split into 3 Acts. The first act is set in Buenos Aires, the second in Boot Camp and the third in battle. The film actually opens with a trademark Verhoeven touch: Spoof advertising. In this case, the ad’s are all fascistic and war driven- being images of children stamping on insects while smiling space marines stand around to a slogan of “They’re doing their bit” or important pieces of information (psychics are real), or hilarious public service announcements (If you blow his leg off, he’s still at 80% operational capability). These are fucking great, being both biting satire and just damned good fun in their own right. Verhoeven doesn’t want to fuck around here, so no sooner have the commercials finished than he’s dumped us straight into the battle scene (a bit of a cock-up, this one). The film tells how they got to this point for the first two acts before taking it on for the last.

BIG FUCKING BUG!!! REALLY FUCKING BIG FUCKING BUG!!!

Buenos Aires looks like a great place. Everyone seems to be ultra-hot, all have loads of money and it’s all sunny and nice. Casper plays some kind of idiotic version of American football (purely for a pay-off line later on), Doogie gives his ferret telepathic suggestions, and so forth. It’s not hard being rich in the fascistic near future. Unfortunately this all changes when Casper signs up for Boot camp. He’s dumped in with the mobile infantry and trained by angry drill sergeant Zim (Clancy Brown being awesome: “THE ENEMY CANNOT PRESS THE BUTTON IF YOU HAVE DISABLED HIS HAND”). Ibanez breaks his heart and it looks like he’s about to wash out. Luckily for the film, the bugs make an interception and smash Buenos Aires off the map. Which, naturally, compels Casper to rejoin to kick some insect ass. This film is all about the chitin kicking.

The twat gets it. I have to say that I cheered when I saw this bit,

The acting in this is bang on. Casper is at his best as the slightly idealistic, but a bit dim Rico (the look on his face when he’s congratulated by the maimed recruiting officer with “mobile infantry made me the man I am today” is fucking priceless), Richards oozes sex appeal as Ibanez, and Doogie has a strange otherworldy quality that works well as a psychic nerd. The supporting cast are also bang on- Jake Busey is excellent as Ace, Meyer superb as Flores and DARTH FUCKING IRONSIDE is seven shades of badass. But, really, I’m not watching Starship Troopers to talk about the acting. I’m watching it for some insect ass-kicking. And maybe some nudity. But mostly insect ass kicking.

Which is just as well, because if there’s one thing that this film delivers in spades, it’s clobbering things with more legs than us. Casper rides on the back of an awesome giant beetle thing before splattering it all over the fucking place with a massive grenade, the soldier arachnids swarm out of the planet’s surface shredding everything before them, overgrown mosquito things swoop down to pick off unwary troopers and giant glowing bugs fire energy balls into space to cripple passing ships. The bugs, actually, were the big selling point of the film, and they look fucking fantastic. It’s impressive how good they still look, and although obviously CGI to the core, bearing in mind that this is a film that’s coming up on 15 years old, I have to say that they look better than a lot of effects you see today. Anyway, who cares? CGI insects go splat just as well as real insects.

Casper shows how it's done. HAVE THAT SPACE BUG CUNT!!!

Then there’s the social commentary. OK, it’s like being clobbered with a baseball bat made out of organic wood, but it is there. Verhoeven has never been a subtle director (he really hasn’t) and this film is big, brash, bold cartoon of a movie. So who gives a red fuck if we see Doogie wearing full SS leathers at the final scene? Really, who gives a fuck if we’ve got advertisements for capital punishment or that the bugs are referred to with a word that sounds suspiciously like “Iraqi”? It’s fun, it’s brave and it makes its point with no little aplomb. Obviously, it’s completely OTT, but the whole movie is completely OTT, so really, fuck it, just enjoy it for what it is. This is not a film to analyse. Don’t get me wrong, you can analyse it if you like, but even if you do, it makes no difference to the enjoyment level.

The perks of being in Ironside's army: hot and cold running Juggs

Finally, before I sign off, I’m just going to talk about the script a little bit. Edward Neumeier adapted Robert Heinlein’s novel with some style. Heinlein, as far as I understand it, was a touch right wing (I stand to be corrected on this one). He manages to jam Starship Troopers full of as much subtext as he could get away with, but better than that he filled it to the brim with simply AWESOME dialogue. The fight between Casper and the douchey pilot guy where “rank is off the table” or the slogan “Fleet just do the flyin’ MI do the dyin'” or, Casper’s comment to Ironside after being asked where he learned his moves “at school sir, I was captain of the team”. But best of all is Ironside’s “motivational” speech to his troops (which Rico steals at the end):

These are the rules. Everybody fights, nobody quits. If you don’t do your job I’ll kill you myself. Welcome to the Roughnecks

Ironside, actually isn’t much cop at the whole motivational speech thing, what with his offer of promotion being:

I need a corporal. You’re it, until you’re dead or I find someone better.

but really, who cares? It’s gloriously macho stuff, and huge amounts of fun all round.

Overall, this is a fantastic film and if you haven’t seen it, then I suggest that you drop whatever you’re doing at the moment and go and watch it. NOW. In fact, fuck it, I’m going to watch it again when I finish this review. Starship Troopers is a glorious slice of cinematic gold and can have a maximum 4 mobile infantry Caspers out of 4, and very fucking well earned they are too.

So, C’mon you apes, you wanna live forever?

Until next time,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

71 responses to “Casper v ANGRY SPACE BUGS!!!: Starship Troopers”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    three words SINGING. SKY. MARSHAL.

  2. Droid says :

    Just on the first paragraph… Are you reviewing ST3 or the first one?

  3. Xiphos0311 says :

    Now that I have read it(and for some reason I read the title as #3) The quotes are actual real quotes that get used over and over again. Patton used them, Shwartzkopf, Tommy Franks prior to the Afghanistan invasion. I’ve heard them from Platoon, Company, Battalion, Regimental and Divisional Commanders. Historical leaders have had those quotes attributed to them.

    I don’t know why I mentioned it it seemed appropriate for some reason.

    • Jarv says :

      You didn’t misread it. I had a slip of the keyboard that I caught after your comment. I went back through it and picked out the rogue 3.

      Is that true? That’s even more awesome.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Yep some version of those lines have been floating around for centuries. I had the corporal line thrown at me, more or less word for word, in Panama in 89 since we had lost 2 squad leaders and and an assistant squad Leader to injuries/death and I wasn’t even a corporal yet. I think they teach them things like that in Officer School but I could be wrong.

      • Jarv says :

        I wonder if Neumeir served in any capacity. Would explain it.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        If you read a lot of military history or biographies of famous leaders you will see those quotes or variations pop up repeatedly.

  4. Droid says :

    Great review, Jarv. Just as gung-ho as the movie.

    I LOVE this movie. And now I want to watch it again!

    “THE ONLY GOOD BUG’S A DEAD BUG!”

    • Jarv says :

      It demanded it. No point being all straight-laced with Starship Troopers.

      “Never pass up a good thing”

      • Droid says :

        I remember at the time they were trying to shoehorn Arnie into this movie. Fuck knows who he would’ve played. If it was Rasczak then thank christ he wasn’t in it. DO THE CUNT IRONSIDE was perfect!

      • Jarv says :

        Ironside FTW. Even if I have been seeing him in an awful lot of cheque collecting roles recently.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        Yep, Ironside is fucking legendary here. “Rico! You know what to do!!”

        Nobody fucks with the Ironside…

      • Jarv says :

        DO THE CUNT IRONSIDE.

        For the win. He’s consistently excellent.

  5. Xiphos0311 says :

    The only thing wrong with TST is that they didn’t use the battle suits or drop ships from book. Those would have been sweet to see on the big screen.

    And not to be a stickler but Rico didn’t volunteer to join the MI, the pre-enlistment screening showed he had the most potential there. Those same tests are why Carmen became a pilot and Doogie got games and a nifty Nazi uniform and they became officers.

    Goddamn Dina Meyers is a hottie and half. She looks even better now then she did then.

  6. Frank Marmoset says :

    Awesome, awesome, awesome film. I love it.

    In fact, I haven’t seen it in a while, I may have to dust it off and give it another go tomorrow night.

    Good review, Jarv.

    • Jarv says :

      Cheers Frank.

      I downloaded it, but am actually going to have to buy it again. So that way I’ll own both Starship Troopers films that matter. Arseholes to that rubbish Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation.

  7. just pillow talk says :

    Heh…great, fun movie. This was the perfect movie to see in the theater, me and my friends loved it.

    I just love when the kids are stepping on the bugs in that commercial, or with the censor that’s slapped on, but doesn’t cover any of the blood.

    And the boobs only enhance the movie.

  8. just pillow talk says :

    Where’d that deleted post go Droid? I think you did a good job on that one.

  9. koutchboom says :

    Yeah I watched this like a month ago still amazing. The special effects are still top notch.

    I read part of the book, don’t know why I didn’t finish it, but I was at least half way in I think and most of it was him at boot camp and the final test was him being dropped of naked 100 miles from anywhere and he had to get back home. I need to finish it.

    • Jarv says :

      I was genuinely surprised at how well they hold up. It’s 15 years old, and how bad are FX most of the time nowadays- Indy 4, for example, didn’t hold up in the fucking cinema.

  10. Xiphos0311 says :

    I have this theory about about why early CGI seems to be much better then the current state of CGI even though the technology has improved considerably. I think it’s due to how much CGI is used now.

    What I mean by that is in the early years it was expensive and very few movies could afford to use it so the CGI artists were very top of the line. Compare that the current state of CGI which is used in virtually every movie the rendering companies have become, in essence, assembly lines and they now take anybody with a certificate from a community college because they need somebody to do the work. The quality of the CGI workers have changed from artist to laborer and I think that shows on screen.

    I think another contributing factor is the quality of movie projectors. Digital cameras clarity take away the margins that CGI use to be able to hide in.

  11. Xiphos0311 says :

    A bit about Heinliens politics and Jarv you weren’t wrong but paradoxically you weren’t quit right either. Heinlien’s upbringing was in Missouri in the 20s-30s so he was right in the buckle of the bible belt and then he went to The Naval Academy(Duty, Honor and loyalty are major recurring themes in his writings). Yet he was a registered democrat, who considered himself liberal in bent and was a big proponent of a Roosveltian style progressive liberalism. He was a rabid integrationist and was all for good race relations and that is obvious throughout his writings.(several stories had prominent minority characters)

    According to Isaac Asimov Heinliens second wife was a liberal fire brand, which in those days among that class of people was a code word for communism.

    After Japan got nuked his views changed and he began to take the position that a strong international government and military was needed to prevent nuclear war. his life long belief in the virtues of the Military and military service really started to flower in his writing. But conversely he was a big believer in self determination, individualism and free love. He stopped being a democrat in the mid 50’s.

    If you had to classify Heinlien politically I guess you would say he was a federalist libertarian which isn’t as contradictory sounding as you would think.

    I would like to thank several online sources that helped me to write this. I only had a vague notion about Heinlien’s politics and I always assumed he was a libertarian. I never knew he went to Annapolis or was heavily democratic leaning. although that would probably be true since he was a southerner and the south, prior to ’68, was virtually fiefdom of the democrats.

  12. Spud McSpud says :

    Fucking awesome, Jarv. One of my very favourite military-themed SF movies, and one of Verhoeven’s very best, up there with ROBOCOP for me. The action is incredible (the scene where the bugs swarm planet P as the last of the troopers take off, utterly distraught, is my favourite, a personal highlight in that movie) and pretty much the only problem with it for me is that Rico chooses Ibanez over Flores. I mean, Ibanez is quite the hottie, but Meyer is a stone-cold fox, and the twenty minute break she shares with Rico – the Casper is one fortunate bastard. Clancy Brown has only been better as the Kurgan – he’s fucking MAGNIFICENT as Zim – and Doogie Howser is some welcome comic relief for me. It’s gloriously Verhoeven, with all the sledgehammer subtlety, political bias, gore, action and titties that such a description entails, and I can’t recommend this classic enough. I saw this four times at the cinema in a fortnight – that says everything you need to know.

    Here’s a tip: Aim for the brain stem, and put it down for good…

    • Spud McSpud says :

      Shit! NERVE STEM, not brain stem!!

      Explains my walk down Washout Lane, then…

      • Jarv says :

        I think this is a career high for Richards, either this or Deep in the Valley. She’s actually acceptable here.

      • Droid says :

        Denise Richards is actively terrible in this movie. She looks mighty fine though.

        Her one shining achievement is Wild Things.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        Gotta defer to Jarv here, Droid. I think Richards is just fine here, mainly because her character would be as dumb as she appears. Yes, she gets to pilot a giant starship, but since it runs off a Quickshot II joystick anyway, that’s not that hard in the Bughunt universe.

        Plus, she and Patrick Muldoon make a satisfyingly hatable couple, which makes it all the more enjoyable when ++EDITED BY FEDERATION CENSORS. WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE??++

      • Jarv says :

        I can’t remember. Does she get the jugs out in Wild Things.

        Man, that’s a review series for Frank to do to get rid of the taste of hellraiser

      • Droid says :

        Nah, her entire performance can be diluted down to smiling a lot. But Casper is actively terrible as well. It’s simply that the performances are in the right movie. You put those performances in any other movie and you’ll agree that they’re terrible.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh, not disputing that they’re both awful actors. Casper was born to play the big lumbering propaganda swallowing numpty that is Jonny Rico, and Richards was born to play doe-eyed but dim (and a bit slutty) Carmen Ibanez.

        You’re quite right. That’s why I said acceptable/ bang on. If they put in these performances in a non-Starship Troopers film then it would be awful- context is everything in this case.

      • Jarv says :

        More importantly though- this is a clear 4 Chang film. Seriously- I actually totally enjoyed it again.

        Therefore, her performance has to be at least fitting and appropriate. She doesn’t interfere with or fuck up the movie at all.

      • Droid says :

        Hasn’t Frankie already done Wild Things? Pre-disappearing act?

        And yes, she does get her juggs out.

      • Jarv says :

        I don’t think he ever wrote them up. I may take that on after I clear my Dance card.

        I seem to have an awful lot of open-ended series running at the moment.

      • Droid says :

        Me too. And my Source Code review is the first of another one. But thats just an ongoing one. Like your schlock vault. I’ve gotta get back to doing the Birthday ones. I’ve had 1986 written for about two months. Need to post it.

      • Jarv says :

        While Mrs. Jarv is at her course I can bang a lot of them out on Monday and Tuesday night. It’s pretty easy to stay up to date. I’ve got BLOODRAYNE primed to go, and I need to reread Novel with Cocaine or I may have to do Abarat. Hell, I’ll just do Abarat anyway, I think.

        I’ll just schedule them, and if you want to put something up, just move any of them back 12 hours or so.

  13. Tom_Bando says :

    This is a Fun flick! I refer to it as Bughunt, every time, all the time. It’s great. ‘Want to know More-?!’ that stuff is a riot–real running gag. Denise Sheen Richards is TERRIBLE in this, but our blonde friend in the shower is quite fine yes indeedie. Doogie Howser was never better, either.

    By all means do the right thing and watch this if you get the chance.

  14. DocPazuzu says :

    I love Starship Troopers for many different reasons. It’s one of those perfect cinematic litmus tests you can run on people to decide whether or not they’re worth knowing:

    “Starship Troopers? That movie’s STUPID! And it’s FASCIST!”

    BZZZZT! Wrong answer. Yes, gimme some fries with that.

    The extras on the disc are hilarious at times, like Richards’ and The Casp’s screen tests. They’re both terribly wooden and you realize that’s exactly what Verhoeven was looking for. They probably thought they were the best actors testing for the parts when in truth they were the right dose of involuntary vapidity for the roles. Genius.

    My fave bit in the public service announcements is when they show a diagram of the galaxy, with Earth at one end and Klendathu at the opposite end, and saying “THIS is why we fight!” Hilarious.

    The only disappointment in the film is that the otherwise gorgeous Meyer has such bad tits. Oh well, at least they’re real.

    • Jarv says :

      They weren’t that bad- at least they were better than those heinous boob jobs.

      Man I love this film so much.

      • Jarv says :

        Didn’t goatfucker proclaim it as fascist and say that Americans were too stupid to understand that Verhoeven was calling them fascists?

      • Droid says :

        They weren’t great, Jarv.

      • Jarv says :

        No, just looking for positives. Not like she had acid scarring or those freakish boobs where they’re like two giant nipples, or spaniel’s ears or something.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        I wrote a review of Starship Troopers for a newspaper back in 1997 and remember saying that George Lucas now had THE space CGI to beat in his forthcoming new Star Wars flick. I’d say Starship Troopers’ space battles are still as good if not better than most similar fare being made today.

      • Jarv says :

        The CGI in Starship Troopers is by a factor too large for the human mind (even larger than Lucas’ neck flesh) to comprehend better than that in the Prequels. Even ST3 looks better now than AOTC.

      • Jarv says :

        As a serious suggestion, Frank. What’s the series with the old Samurai pushing the babycart around? There’s loads of them, and they’re hilarious and full of lots and lots of violence.

      • Jarv says :

        Which book is Grok from Doc? I’ve definitely read it, and I was going to come back to it, but I’ve forgotten what it’s called. It’s the one with the Martian coming back to Earth and organised religion is now a big casino.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        Baby Cart!

      • Jarv says :

        Shite. I’ve put that on the wrong page.

        Frank is looking for a new series now he’s back from hell.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        Stranger in a Strange Land

      • Jarv says :

        Cheers. I read a copy I found in the pub in Rio. I remember quite liking it, and thinking I should look at more Heinlein.

  15. Jarv says :

    Some Good and Some Bad news:

    The good- Starship Troopers 4 GIVEN THE GO AHEAD!!!

    The Bad- it’s a fucking CGI cartoon.

    Pah, bring back Casper, bring back Ibanez, and KILL THEM, KILL THEM ALL…

  16. DocPazuzu says :

    As for Heinlein, he’s probably one of the most misunderstood American SF writers ever. Ignorant cunts like goatfucker, who don’t grok the nuances of American political thought, call him a fascist.

    • Jarv says :

      Goatfucker doesn’t do nuance. He also doesn’t do visceral enjoyment. It has to have some sort of poxy, but blatantly obvious, message/ subtext.

  17. ThereWolf says :

    Starship Troopers is IMMENSE! I fucking love it.

    The CGI is exceptional – when the fleet arrive over the planet & the dropships tumble out… jawdropping.

    I particularly like the moment when thousands of bugs are converging on the ‘fort’ and the look on Ironside’s face which is, roughly – “We’re dead… but we’re gonna do the cunts anyway.”

    I remember, at the cinema, the moment during training when the rookie accidentally gets his head blown off. The audience (full house) proper freaked, there were even some man-shrieks in there.

    Good on yer, Jarv. I’ll have to see the DTV sequels… well, the third one for sure.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s just a great film. I’ve not handed out that many maximum’s- this, Flash Gordon and I think that’s it. Esteemed company.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        YES! I fooking love this flick! Love it start to finish! Not a single flaw in it. This is no guilty pleasure this is simply a kick ass well made flick.

        Hey Jarv, two flicks for your viewing pleasure – Massacre at central high – great bloody horror.

        Doc Savage the movie – a pure guilty pleasure of mine, very campy, very cheaply made, very entertaining

  18. Spud McSpud says :

    Am over at Gingertown nosing around, and apparently AMC are re-issuing TOP GUN at theatres. Old news to me – I saw it a few years back in Nottingham’s Savoy Cinema for a student evening movie night, we all laughed ourselves stupid, some funny fuckers even turned up in fancy dress, and the entire cinema chanted the last line of the movie right back at the screen – but fun for the kids I guess.

    And as you all know, preternatural badass Darth Fucking Ironside is in it.

    So, at Apr 07, 2011 3:54:43 PM CDT, Mugato5150 throws this out there:

    “And Michael Ironside, who is incapable of not being a bad ass motherfucker, no matter how gay the material.”

    Nice to know some kids still have some respect, if they do have to throw down the gay thing. Though, in practically every respect, it’s kinda hard these days to argue that TOP GUN is NOT the gayest action flick of the 80s :/

    Yep, TOP GUN was lots of fun. But for sheer badassery, the magic one-two sucker punch of Darth Fucking Ironside and Darth Bastard Skerritt outshines anything the Cruiser could bring to the table – big flashy teeth and all.

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