A Review of ‘Starship Troopers’ (1997)

‘Starship Troopers’ is the dumbest fucking movie I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is stupid – so unfathomably stupid, I could barely get to the end credits without collapsing into a heap disbelief. Who the hell signed off on this moronic piece of crap?  Did the creators just detach themselves from reality altogether?

As beginnings go, this film has a pretty terrible start, introducing us to a bunch of high schoolers whose main concerns are just fucking each other and passing grades. Can we really not have some more interesting personalities? They’re all so shallow and air-headed I honestly wonder if this film didn’t actually start off as a school drama that got landed with pointless action to make it more marketable.

starship troopers nazis
Difficult to tell who’s more gormless – the extras, or the entire fucking audience.

The characterisation is awful, but the plot is even worse. As our boring bunch of teenagers go through their training (yes, apparently they ALL decided to join the military, how convenient), after what seems like ages we finally get some story development when a huge asteroid strikes their home town, wiping it out completely.

I may have made that seem like an interesting, dramatic way to advance the plot, except for how ludicrously it’s executed. As the protagonists watch a news report, we see that the asteroid was apparently flung against Earth from ACROSS THE GALAXY by a civilisation of “bugs.” That’s like hitting a bullseye on a spinning dartboard in another room using a gun made out of spaghetti – a hundred million years in the future. Are we really meant to believe that the human government would start a war with the bugs even when there’s no realistic way that they could be behind the attack?

Revealed within this news report is a “death toll” for this particular calamity, with the number rising by a few dozen every second, just to add cheap emotional impact. Even with future technology it would be impossible to identify deaths at such a quick rate. An asteroid hit like that would have obliterated an entire city – you won’t be able to identify individual casualties like that, especially so quickly after the event. This film makes me feel ashamed for having a brain.

Everything in the entire movie is bafflingly dumb. It’s constantly interrupted by weird interludes, where we’re taken on little cut-aways to infomercials and bite-size news tidbits, all terribly acted and fake-looking, and occasionally overlapping so that it’s difficult to tell which bits are the film and which bits are the god-awful pieces of in-world propaganda.

Maybe I should just switch my brain off more when watching this atrocious production. We get one scene where a recruit asks why they’re being forced to train in knife-throwing when most fights can be resolved with nukes by “pushing a button”. Cue the drill sergeant throwing a knife and pinning the recruit’s hand to a bulkhead, thereby “preventing him pushing a button.”

Obviously that’s incredibly realistic, and in no way has the asshat sergeant missed the point that you don’t launch the nukes from the battlefield. I mean, Jesus, the film actually sides with the sergeant on this one – apparently the film-makers themselves believe that you have to be in knife-throwing distance of your target in order to authorise a nuclear missile launch.

starship troopers censored
This is an actual still from the movie. Seriously, it’s rated ’18’ for fuck’s sakes, there’s scenes a hundred times more gory than this – did the BBFC really insist of slapping this on just for this scene?

Really, I mean, every scene in this film falls victim to its inherent incompetence. In a scene in which our main protagonist, Johnny “Big-Chin” Rico, confronts a food-line bully, we see the aforementioned drill sergeant just standing there in the background – he was obviously meant to intervene at some point, but for whatever reason they managed to edit out the parts where he does anything, but not the parts where he’s clearly visible. Christ, what’s he meant to be doing? Watching the confrontation to assess the recruits for how they deal with conflict? Why wouldn’t they just edit him out altogether?

Or maybe they should have edited out the protagonists. At the beginning of the film, they’re all incredibly vacuous idiots, but the writers couldn’t even bother to be consistent. The final few scenes show the main characters talking about huge subjects, like the nature of sacrifice and the need to fight for a bigger cause, and the audience is expected to accept that these stupid teenagers all of a sudden care about the nature of the conflict in which they’re taking part – it’s as though after their experiences in the war and the loss of their friends, they’re entirely different people.

Nothing suggests that any member of the production team was paying any attention to the dreck they were churning out, even the fucking costume department. One of our heroic trio turns up later on as a high-ranking intelligence officer, replete in black leather trench coat and peaked cap – it is so painfully obvious that they simply reused an old stock Gestapo uniform from some other film. Seems nobody realised that this would make the protagonists’ own government look like the fucking Nazi party. Or maybe they just didn’t care. Probably both. Either way, you don’t serve the purpose of building sympathy for your own heroes when they’re all dressed as the Wehrmacht – had any of these people even worked in movie production before?

Seriously, I could go on about how shitty ‘Starship Troopers’ really is, but it’s so painful that I’m not sure I can bring myself to relive much more of it. It’s clear that the director, the writers, the entire production crew and all of the actors had no interest in the film as a whole, and equally clear is how oblivious they were to its many, many faults. Reviewing this turd has left me so emotionally drained that I’m going to have to go and reset my brain and try watching an actually coherent sci-fi action adventure like ‘Star Trek Into Darkness which has a sensible plot, and desperately hope that nobody looks too closely at the first letter of each paragraph in this article.

4 thoughts on “A Review of ‘Starship Troopers’ (1997)

  1. I like this movie as well…but I think it’s mainly because I enjoy watching the insect aliens rampage. I read somewhere that the movie itself is actually satirical which makes a lot of sense. The most enjoyable aspect of this film is how it’s not taking itself seriously in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is absolutely one of those films that I can keep watching, I enjoy it that much. I am yet to see the sequels, and I intend to never see them, if what I’ve heard is true.

      Like

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