Starship Troopers

Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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A couple of years ago I was walking through an airport in Stuttgart, Germany. Two 18 year old kids were patrolling the airport armored in flak jackets and armed with sub-machine guns, pistols, and other forms of submission devices. I remember thinking how much nicer our life in America was compared to that. Six months ago I watched a guy in a flack vest and a 9mm pistol poke through my shoes on his steel table while I sat in my socks a few feet away. While wishing I had used more bleach on my grey socks, I thought about how much our life has changed in the last couple of years. Watching Starship Troopers again gave me another dark wake-up call. Watching it again was a far different experience for me today than it was three years ago.

On the surface, Starship Troopers is a high pitched bloody action science fiction movie. It has a cast right out of 90210 and a fast-paced plotline that seems everything but believable. There was always a subtlety underneath it of a facist society, with a constant push of the military, images of blonde headed 10 year olds wearing helmets, and of school kids crushing bugs while their teacher cackles and applauds. At the time I could see this other layer but it never became clear until I watched it recently. Now seeing the reaction of "kill them all!" after a home city is wiped out by a bug-launched asteroid is a little too familiar. Now seeing the PR machine telling everyone to "do their part" even if it means sending your pre-teen into war is a little too common. Our world is a lot harder today than it once was. We aren't turning into Nazi Germany, but watching an old woman being frisked three times before boarding an hour long flight to see her granddaughter is quite uncomfortable. Movies like Starship Troopers help clarify some of these actions and point to a possible dark future.

As I am rewriting this review, it is important to mention that just about everyone else who saw this movie didn't like it. I found it to be a good satire of a science fiction movie. It built a good view of a future society, had some special effects that still hold up a few years later, and some characters that were quite interesting. It is no surprise that early screenings had the audience hoping for the death of Denise Richards's character, she is quite annoying, but our main character and his secondary love interest are very well done. Scenes like the shower scene and the severe violence show that the movie has a lot of guts (no pun intended) along with the snickering look at a fascist lifestyle.

There are a couple DVD versions of Starship Troopers available. The version I personally own is quite good for an early release. It has a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture, a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and an excellent directors commentary. There is now a Special Edition available that includes a number of new making-of features on a two-disc set. If you don't own a copy and wish to, the special edition is probably worth the extra four bucks. If you have the old one, I wouldn't worry about upgrading. Either way, I think its a picture worth owning if you care for it. Many do not.

I don't think a lot of people understood Starship Troopers. I'm not sure I understood it. Unfortunately, I think I understand it a lot more now than I did before 9-11. Watching Starship Troopers makes me weep at the loss of ignorance I once had.