The late 90s was the tail end of a glorious era when “B” movies were “A” movies and for me, “Starship Troopers” is a grand salute to everything that was good and absurd about the era. Being a great appreciator of irony, Director Paul Verhoeven hilariously made a 100 million dollar “B” movie complete with campy performances by fresh faced actors, highly quotable terrible dialogue and gooey practical effects monsters. His movies have always been rich with brilliant satire, compelling stories and unapologetic violence and nudity and all 2 hours and 9 minutes of “Starship Troopers” is no exception to that most excellent tradition.
The movie centers around a group of high school graduates as they make their way through military training when war with an alien species of insects breaks out and they get sucked in to serve from their varied posts. You can tell this movie came from the pair that gave the world “Robocop”. Writer Ed Neumeyer and Director Paul Verhoeven crafted a world full of wonderfully sardonic criticisms of modern society. Being released in the mid 90’s, the opening quarter’s focus on the goofy 90210-esque teen romance triangle of the leads is especially biting when paired up with the cruel role the indoctrinated youth plays in this world becoming “more meat for the grinder” as they enlist into the military. They are anything but subtle in pointing out the inherent fascism of war with the military command uniforms looking vaguely Nazi SS and the airing of the hilarious “would you like to know more?” propaganda films throughout the picture. Its commentary on war and society really made a younger me fear the concept of a draft. You see, I would make a terrible soldier. Like a hooker on the weekend before rent is due, I’ve always used my mouth to get myself out of trouble but on the front lines of battle, a full clip of dick jokes is a rather useless armament.
This movie has more hot young stars than M33’s H-II region and it would be a mistake to not credit the actors for so relentlessly playing every scene perfectly straight. I can see how an average movie goer could miss the joke of Rico screaming “medic!” after the guy gets his head blown off but I feel sorry that the average-joe house Dad didn’t get to appreciate the movie’s subtextual jokes like the not so vaguely vaginal looking face of brain bug and its ability to drain men’s minds. The other actors we have to credit are the Bugs themselves. You have to remember that Jurassic park was just about 3 years earlier and the very same guy that gave the Jurassic Park Raptors and Robocop’s ED-209 their stride was the “creature visual effects supervisor” the stop motion legend Phil Tippett. Tippitt has to be the only person on IMDB who’s had job descriptions like “demon supervisor” and “dinosaur supervisor”.
It has a gun wielding Doogie Houser, a full cast nude shower scene and a vagina faced head baddie, whats not to like? It may have been under appreciated in its time but Paul Verhoeven is delivered a smart satirical movie that masquerades brilliantly as a dumb space war drama. It might be an acquired taste but to those its palatable to, its a deliciously cheesy, surprisingly nutritious meal.