Starship Troopers

on November 07, 1997 by Christine James
   Finally, a futuristic sci-fi film that doesn't depict tomorrow's world as a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by underground tribal renegades with painted faces who must eat rats to survive! In this satiric actioner (which is adapted from Robert A. Heinlein's novel), there is a semi-fascistic system of government in place, though it's one that no one seems to feel oppressed by. If you decide to serve in the military, this entitles you to become a citizen with voting rights and other privileges; otherwise, you're simply a civilian, which may have some restrictions but doesn't seem like too bad a situation. (A framing device involving an interactive computer program spouting military propaganda that combines 1950s naivete with modernistically lethal weapons and interplanetary battle scenarios hilariously points up a message about society accepting anything so long as it's marketed correctly).
   When Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) decides to sign up as an infantryman straight out of school to impress his girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards), his civilian parents urge him against it, especially given the increased threat from an alien bug species trying to destroy all humans. But against their wishes, he goes off to boot camp, where with new pal Ace (Jake Busey) and old school chum Dizzy (Dina Meyer) he must endure extremely rigorous training and the abuses of a typically sadistic drill sergeant (Clancy Brown). This gruelling instruction serves the young cadets well when they find they must employ some mighty impressive maneuvers to evade their formidable giant insectoid foes.
   Director Paul Verhoeven's filmic dalliances with sex ("Showgirls," "Basic Instinct") and sardonic sci-fi action ("Total Recall," "RoboCop") are genres merged here to entertaining, engaging, exciting results. "Starship Troopers" wittily conjoins the adrenaline-pumped Us Vs. Them camaraderie and heroicism of "Independence Day" with the black humor of "Mars Attacks!" and the lustful entanglements of "Melrose Place," with game, energetic, winsome performances from most all the players, and effects that live up to the hype. Starring Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey and Neil Patrick Harris. Directed by Paul Verhoeven. Written by Ed Neumeier. Produced by Jon Davison and Alan Marshall. A TriStar release. Action. Rated R for graphic sci-fi violence and gore, and for some language and nudity. Running time: 128 min
Tags: Starring Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Written by Ed Neumeier, Produced by Jon Davison, Alan Marshal, TriStar, Action

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