Note : This review is my contribution to the Film Preservation blogathon hosted by Ferdy on Films, This Island Rod, and Wonders in the Dark. Please donate generously.
Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven, 1997)
Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival.
Over the years, the many films of Dutch film director Paul Verhoeven have passed the test of time and became cult films. Just think of Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Showgirls for his work in Hollywood and his early European productions are underground hits with strong sexual and violent images.
Starship Troopers is more a virulent critic of America, the use of medias, and the way action movies are representing a right wing perception of life. The story is accessory to Verhoeven’s message of second level one liners and overbearing violence. In the films of Verhoeven, violence is not really stylised or cool, it is in your face just like when Peter Weller dies in Robocop before being in the robot. Even in Starship Troopers, Verhoeven has a way to present violence that does not appeal even with all the saturated frames of blood and special effects. With a production of 105 millions of dollars, Verhoeven achieved a level of imitation of fascism and opulence that only Albert Speer’s architecture could have been compared to.
Many sequences are shot by shot exactly like Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will documenting Nazi reunions of the German party. The irony and satiric tone of Starship Troopers makes it such a great piece of anthology that it is almost frightening to think that American ideologies are not that far from what the film represents.
Curiously, at the time Starship Troopers was released, the critics and the public were not that warm about the film. Probably not ready for such an examination of their foreign politics, the turning of the 21st Century with the sad and condemnable events of September 11 may have demonstrated to the face of the world America’s belligerent politics.
As a film enthusiast, or as I like to call myself a cinephile, I really enjoyed Starship Troopers for its second level of reading and how he uses the action sequences to demonstrate a point. They are also really entertaining and this is one of the best part of this film. It has both values that few films of the genre have. In fact, I like most of Verhoeven’s films and I would watch Robocop, Total Recall, or Starship Troopers anytime knowing that it will be a good time and that I will find a little detail I haven’t seen before. They have great watch value and it adds a little omph to the whole thing.