Paul Verhoeven is not exactly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but you have to admire what he did with Starship Troopers back in 1997. Why? Because Phil Tippett and his direct to video posse followed up Verhoeven’s cheesy, fun, over the top popcorn flick with a low budget horror flick. How does that work? Guess what, it doesn’t. Years after the altercations that occurred in the first installment of the “series”, the Federation is losing the war they seemed to have all but won after Doogie Howser and friends captured that brain sucking jell-o mold. Engulfed by a swarm of bugs on a desolate planet somewhere in the universe, the Mobile Infantry retreat their way out of battle to an old, abandoned outpost. There, freaky things occur that might lead to the destruction of the unit one by one and the only person who can save them is a treasonous murderer sick of his government’s politics.
On paper, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea. However, the execution I’m afraid is very poor. Shot on the same exact brand of high-definition digital video cameras as Star Wars: Episode II and with 5% of the original’s budget, Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation is just a giant ball confusion camouflaged as a sequel. If it would’ve had a bigger budget, a few names (or at least familiar faces), and dropped the whole “Troopers” moniker it could’ve been a decent sci-fi/horror flick. But no. Slapping on that title with a “2" attached to it makes the movie worse.
The movie is about an hour and half long. Not exactly enough time to screw around with getting to the point. The first twenty minutes is pretty much all the combat you’ll see in the flick. Most of it is of the infantry retreating, and it’s all shot (like every war movie in the past thirty years) hand-held. Last time I checked you’re supposed to introduce the main characters and set up everything within that time frame, not have chaos on the screen and then a third of the way through the flick try and figure out who’s who. Right when you think this person’s the lead character, something happens and they’re obviously not. The woman who ends up being the female lead, Private Sahara (Porch), doesn’t establish herself as being the lead until halfway through.
I blame the lead-confusion thing on the casting. You throw a group of no-names in a movie, especially as jumbled as this, and it’s gonna be slightly hard to follow. The nail in the coffin is the fact that one actress from Starship Troopers returns; yet she is not playing the same character. It’s like watching Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs and spotting Frankie Faison in duel roles. The one great casting in this flick though was that of J.P. Manoux as Peck. You hear that name and you think “who?”, you might recognize him as the french robot man in Eurotrip.The most interesting character in the entire movie is a dirty, smelly, stuttering wacko. But then comes the big reveal: Peck is none other than this movie’s version of Edgar from Men in Black, yet after this big reveal he vanishes from the rest of the movie. Peck steals every one of the few scenes he has, it is just sad to see an interesting character written off so quickly for a cheap effects gag.
The special effects were not that bad. The biggest problem is that it’s blatantly obvious the entire movie was shot indoors. The composite of the live action with the computer animation is faker than a $3 diamond. But it amazes me how a sci-fi sequel can defy laws of physics that were implemented in the original. When you shoot a gun that has bullets there is something called recoil, this is what causes the shaking of a person when firing an automatic weapon. Part 1: recoil galore. Part 2: absolutely no recoil. Why? The budget. Starship Troopers could afford to have real automatic weapons encased in fiberglass that shoot blanks, Starship Troopers 2 could only afford nicely sculpted rubber and metal things that have bright strobe lights attached to the end. Yet you hear rapid-fire bullet sounds and see squibs and bugs blowing up. It defies physics. If it was a laser gun I could understand. But it’s not. The sound and score are seemingly okay, but here’s where the budget comes in again, they were obviously taken straight from the first movie and plugged into these scenes.
Now I could just go on and on about how bad this movie is, but the worst thing is that it had potential. That’s the main reason this movie sucks as much as it does. It could have been a halfway decent sci-fi/horror flick, but isn’t because of producer Jon Davison. For some reason he was under the wacky impression that Verhoeven’s cheesy sci-fi flick was the second coming of Alien, whereby you can seemingly mess with the structure and story the next chapter. Whatever drugs he’s on, give me some. As far as Phil Tippett in the director’s chair....I mean he is a great Effects Coordinator, he did the effects for Return of the Jedi and won an Oscar for his work on Jurassic Park, but he sure did pick a bad ship to sail on his first voyage at the helm. Damn you George Lucas for making the term “Special Edition” so abundant. Strewn across the top of this DVD’s cover is the term Special Edition. There is absolutely nothing on this disc to garner the phrase Special on it, unless they mean like Corky from “Life Goes On” Special. That I’ll agree with.
Features include the atypical trailer and stills gallery, along with one solitary behind the scenes featurette. Pretty “special” eh? The behind the scenes featurette includes cast interviews, most of which say the same thing in different ways. It’s all something along the lines of “I was caught up in the script”, “I really liked all the stunts”, “I was really interested this character”, and “I loved the story”. Yeah, I buy that. They were in for the check, half these people haven’t done anything more than a walk on role in a soap opera.
Then there’s the commentary. The commentary is boring, if only because the writer, director, and producer all make it obvious that they recorded it several hours after they finished cutting it. It’s a direct to video movie so expect no “remember at the premiere...” or “audiences reacted well..” stories from the commentary track, it’s all a butt smooching fiesta commenting on how great the other person is.
Bottom line, when you’re at the video store, and you happened see this on the shelf...just leave it there. I guarantee you’ll find no entertainment value in this Starship Troopers flick. Instead, just go rent Super Troopers. You’ll thank me later.
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