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Overall Rating
3.83

Awesome37.33%
Worth A Look: 30.88%
Average: 16.59%
Pretty Bad: 7.83%
Total Crap: 7.37%

11 reviews, 151 user ratings


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Starship Troopers
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by Jack Sommersby

"Best Sci-Fi Adventure in Many a Year"
4 stars

More than compensates for the director's failures "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls".

Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers is exactly what it wants to be: fun, goofy, wickedly imaginative, wildly entertaining to boot. But it also possesses some things many films in this genre try for and miss -- a hearty spirit, a playfulness. The filmmakers have set out to give the audience a great time, and they've done so with an admirable respect for what goes into this kind of material to succeed; and they don't look down on the audience they're entertaining as if their considerable talents were superior to the material with which they're working. It takes creativity and discipline to deliver a product on a simplified level that's endowed with the necessary ingredients for it to succeed. I certainly can't aver that the world is all of a sudden a better place because of Starship Troopers, but for all-out, undiluted filmgoer pleasure it's a small masterpiece in its own right.

Adapted from a Robert Heinlein novel, the film takes place in the faraway future where space travel has become a norm and annual vacations aren't all taken at common places like the Grand Canyon but at distant planets as if they weren't any farther away than another country. Unlike most futuristic films (including Verhoeven's Robocop), the atmospherics aren't gloomy-doomy like Blade Runner's dank Los Angeles and The Terminator's apocalyptic wasteland; rather, it's a bright, clear, lucid society that looks as if Earth (at least parts of it) has actually improved with age. The setting is Buenos Aires, where we watch as a group of high-school seniors who are on the verge of graduation decide what they want to do with their adult lives. Their government instructor (a never-better Michael Ironside) lectures them on differentiating between a civilian and a citizen: to become a full-fledged citizen one must enlist in the service and contribute their souls and sense of honor for the Cause, with the current one wiping out a giant space species, the Arachnaids, which are bombarding Earth from another planet with meteors spit from their mouths.

Of the main characters, we have: Johnny (Casper Von Dien), an impossibly handsome rich kid being pressured by his parents to attend Harvard Law School but wants to enlist so he can be close to his girlfriend, Carmen (Denise Richards), who's hell-bent on becoming a pilot; Dizzy (Dina Meyer), who has a crush on Johnny and loves him like a friend; and Carl (Neil Patrick Harris), a scientific whiz kid who can't wait to explore the vast possibilities that the galaxy has to offer. All four enlist and are soon separated from one another, except for Johnny and Dizzy, who're both assigned to the same infantry squad. After a week of basic training, Johnny realizes he's made a big mistake by enlisting for all the wrong reasons; but with the help of his drill instructor, Sgt. Zim (Clancy Brown, a plus to any film), he develops into a natural leader and finds himself falling for Dizzy, a squad leader to his sergeant status.

These starship troopers are soon deployed to the Arachnaid's planet (looking like a sanitized version of David Lynch's deserts in Dune) which is positively teeming with these huge creatures that can run at rampant speeds and spear their victims with lethally sharp pinchers. The combat scenes of man and beast are absolutely breathtaking in their technical bravado. There are hundreds of these creatures, and Jost Vacano's colorful, hypersensitized cinematography with unbelievably crisp imagery, is so luxurious in organic clarity that it seems to break down the standard barrier between digital effects and the perspective of filmgoers, like there's no silver screen separating us from the goings-on we're witnessing. Verhoeven shoots these combat scenes in close proximity (like Mel Gibson's staging in Braveheart), and it's one of his many accomplishments that the audience is joyfully put there among the terror and gore. There's blood, to be sure, but it isn't mean-spirited in tone, so, while the content itself may be chockfull of violence , the confident execution of it is respectful and controlled enough where the strictly-exaggerated, cartoon-like violence perfectly meshes with the material's overall spirit. Every level of Starship Troopers works and flawlessly coalesces with every facet put before us.

Mind you, the acting by the four leads is nothing more than TV-style in quality, but it's admittedly damn good surface quality, with the actors delivering their juicily charming lines with aplomb ("Let's get that big bug!"). In fact, we envy them because they seem to be having the time of their lives, and their infectiousness is easily contagious. Von Dien, in particular, may get slammed for his pretty-boy theatrics, yet he carries his role off with the same energetic appeal that Harrison Ford did in the original Star Wars. (And remember, Ford wasn't exactly much of a quality actor back then, either.)

Paul Verhoeven has endured as much critical lambasting in the '90s than any other director and the most overall since Heaven's Gate's Michael Cimino in the '80s. He's always been an incredibly naive filmmaker who can easily boast strong compositional skill but very little in the way of narrative skill; like Cimino, he tries too often to tell his stories strictly through visual means, which worked in his sci-fi gigs Robocop and Total Recall but hampered his Basic Instinct and Showgirls (both of which didn't exactly boast Shakespearean proportions but possessed some semblances of narrative in their one-person's-told tales). I'd never attach a "rigid" or "boring" label to any of Verhoeven's work because his gift for texture and colorfully-rendered sequences is always readily apparent -- he gives good eye candy. So it's a pleasure to report that his work here is dazzling. For the first time he seems to be working as a team player, with every department -- acting, editing, photography, set design, music, etc. -- disciplinarily working together to form an organic whole, and there's a great pleasure in taking in a big-budget production where the big budget hasn't clouded the director's judgment in putting together a logistically-assured success that makes one agog over every single frame that perfectly emits "the joy of making cinema."

It's wonderfully entertaining stuff from start to finish.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=343&reviewer=327
originally posted: 05/13/08 12:22:35
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell 2 long but good gory sci-fi fun 4 stars
1/08/16 David Hollingsworth cheesy, but good cheesy 4 stars
11/08/14 Dan Palacios A sci-fi version of the 911 to Iraqi invasion trope. Terrifying prophecy. Ass-Plasma indeed 5 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Good action scenes, but terrible adaptation of Robert Heinlen's original novel. 3 stars
8/08/11 Chris F Brilliant film never get bored watching it 5 stars
8/02/11 art IT"S MY KIND OF MOVIE!,MAGNIFICENT! 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles PURE LOVE FOR THIS FILM 5 stars
4/21/11 Maya Jewell A truly awful waste of time. 1 stars
3/26/11 M. Rogers This is still a fun movie to watch. 5 stars
3/03/11 brian "The only good bug is a dead bug." Amen. 5 stars
1/19/11 PAUL SHORTT ENERGETIC, SHARP AND FUN 4 stars
9/05/10 Bellering Plain Just saw it in a theatre two nights ago....in 2010 !! A sublime guilty plezzure for sure. 4 stars
1/04/10 Jeff Wilder A perfectly entertaining guilty pleasure. 4 stars
12/18/08 Man Out 6 Bucks A film Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini would love 1 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
8/28/08 michael thomas enjoyed it, would like to get the dvd one day 4 stars
8/15/08 Jago There are two kinds of people; those who love this movie and those that didn't get it. 5 stars
8/05/08 King 1 This movie is totally COOL! ...sadly has some really bad sequels 5 stars
5/18/08 paul evans Robert Heinlen wrote the original story,the movie held it together well. 4 stars
5/09/08 Jim Raynor Wicked Masterful Entertainment 5 stars
3/08/08 art AN EXTRAORDINAIRY COMIC BOOK FILM I RECOMEND IT 5 stars
8/03/07 itchmr campy spoof of army, space & western films - addictive 4 stars
7/15/07 action movie fan a bit redundant but great battle scenes though extremely gory 4 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega Enjoyable, action packed cheese. 3.5/5. 4 stars
6/23/07 Mike I have a bet with a buddy. Do you get to see Denise Richards boobs in this movie? 3 stars
6/21/07 Ronin Surprisingly good. 4 stars
6/11/07 al smith cracking film shame denise richards didn't get her huge bangers out 4 stars
5/22/07 Indrid Cold Just like Verhoeven's Robocop: a great mixture of action, FX, and satire. 5 stars
4/17/07 Stevo The fighting bits were absolutley badass, but y add a love story? 5 stars
4/10/07 David Pollastrini Great fx 4 stars
1/08/07 R.W.Welch Liked the bugs, but neither the comedy nor the drama are very effective. 3 stars
12/19/06 Akabusi Masterful satire of fascist militarism, propaganda and human stupidity. 5 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies The best movie I have ever seen without a plot 4 stars
2/21/06 Ruff I wonder how many people twig to the political satire in this 5 stars
10/31/05 Ronin not bad between average and worth a look 4 stars
10/11/05 fabius maximus good movie 5 stars
8/12/05 ES The part where the kids are squishing cockroaches is too funny = join the mobile inf! 5 stars
7/31/05 Adam I would have liked to see Denise Richards naked, why the fuck not???? 3 stars
7/20/05 Dan "why wasnt denise richards naked?"--That's a good fucking question she had the biggest tits 5 stars
7/03/05 Eddie Wicked good movie 5 stars
6/17/05 Janeywaney I thought I was the only one who liked this 5 stars
3/12/05 Alice Colwell not bad 3 stars
2/06/05 Tom Benton Well-done, entertaining and often funny science fiction adventure. 4 stars
1/22/05 Allen ok, so the acting sucked...it was still pretty cool..why wasnt denise richards naked? 4 stars
12/25/04 Alfie "I see...ace of spades!" You have to watch carefully to understand this movie. 5 stars
12/15/04 paul No, not RIO!! 4 stars
12/10/04 Jason Kaul At least there was nudity. Otherwise it amazes me that this film spawned a sequal. 2 stars
10/22/04 caspar N Too much high school drama 2 stars
10/11/04 Vince This movie ROCKS! Period. 5 stars
7/28/04 Cass Killing, violence, bloodshed, decapitation..Ignore the plot. KICK SOME ASS! 5 stars
7/23/04 DM A terminally stupid, atrociously acted catastrophe 1 stars
7/15/04 John McIntyre The only good bug is a dead bug 4 stars
6/25/04 milehigh Good squishy fun. 4 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva better story then you would think 5 stars
6/14/04 PR Communal showers- Yeepie the future looks rosy 5 stars
6/01/04 Frazier Disgusting movie that uses carnal pleasures to sell. Worst movie that I've seen. 1 stars
5/20/04 Borg453 I think the review has a bout about the B-Class acting. 4 stars
5/18/04 Jack Sommersby Mammothly entertaining. Perfect blend of gore, humor, and spirit. 5 stars
5/18/04 Idiot's Mouth Killing CGI bugs only works for a few scenes. Book better, though shameless plug for Army. 2 stars
4/25/04 Vicious Aliens did a similar thing better, but this was fun. 4 stars
4/12/04 Bob I watched it a second time, and STILL I think it's good. 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig We should've seen Denise Ricahrds in the nude, not Dina Meyer 5 stars
2/25/04 Dr.Lecter Almost spectacular, but disgraceful acting tainted it for me 3 stars
11/30/03 john a cynical but accurate depiction of facism from the inside out - good sfx too! 4 stars
10/24/03 Bapts Its funny to see that almost no one here understood the sarcasm that made this film so grea 5 stars
8/30/03 gigimaletti Almost a perfect film.. aliens, violence, big guns.. a bit more sex and it could be N.1 5 stars
8/07/03 marc_ian_a Excellent ! (5 stars) :) 5 stars
7/18/03 Animator dude Fucking hilarious movie 5 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Great mindless gore-fest. Like the pitiful topless girl with the egg-titties. 4 stars
4/15/03 me iAM WITH YOU TAD IT WAS BAD 1 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby A mammohtly entertaining sci-fi with loads of color and laughs and gore! 5 stars
12/23/02 3man Nothing like the book but seeing Dina Meyer's boobs makes up for it. 3 stars
12/22/02 Pigwidgeon Here's a hint ... Verhoeven made it into a SATIRE ... better than the book version! 5 stars
11/28/02 Lady who hates romantic comedies Hot bods, big guns, giant bugs and Michael Ironside - what's not to love? Dina Meyer rules! 5 stars
11/24/02 Sweetgrrl1972 They don't think. They don't moralize. They just shoot bugs. Fucking Awsome. 5 stars
10/04/02 Alex Flynn I think the mobile infantry should invest in better military hardware. Crappy-Ass Guns 2 stars
8/16/02 scott a good film 4 stars
7/20/02 artemishia was it just me or did that last giant smart bug look like a huge vagina? 4 stars
4/06/02 Dave MacDougall retarded enough to offend retarded people.... 1 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Easily some of the best CGI effects I've seen yet. and the redheaded chick was hot. 4 stars
2/25/02 Mark Lloyd Instant cult film. You either love it or hate it. I loved it 5 stars
2/22/02 Skywise I liked the book better, but it WAS a great rollercoaster ride and worth the money 4 stars
1/14/02 Andrew Carden The Special Effects Are Good, but It's Very Goofy and Has A Confusing Plot. 3 stars
12/08/01 Monster W. Kung Really sick satire, it's hard not to root for the bugs in this one. 3 stars
9/27/01 Xerox Verhoven is da du-rek-ta! 5 stars
9/25/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This movie is one of the most... KICK ASS OF ALL KICK ASS MOVIES EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/23/01 Jim Flying dismembered body parts interrupted by the occasional philosophical discussion 4 stars
8/21/01 P.Rodriguez 2nd best movie eva.4 those who don't like the film, remember take a film 4 whats it's worth 5 stars
7/28/01 TheFirkin Great Effects, lots of gore, silly acting but who cares! I was there for fun and I got it! 5 stars
7/07/01 Indelusia Root for the bugs! A great propoganda film. 4 stars
6/08/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I love this movie, goddamn it. Some of us seem jaded by all the TRULY bad sci-fi out there 5 stars
5/08/01 Gracy Lionheart Not bad/not good either. I personally liked the original book much better. 3 stars
5/05/01 The Moorhen Jake Busey rocks. I wish he was my best friend. God I'm so lonely. *SOB* 5 stars
3/02/01 Steve in Prague once again teen movie critic II is a dumb ass little bitch who knows NOTHING 5 stars
2/28/01 Jason M. This movie is all about dark humor and a fun ride - enjoy. 5 stars
2/26/01 jk great and any one who says different is gay and knows nothing 5 stars
2/23/01 Elladan I spit upon this movie, an insult to Heinlein's name. Vorhoeven, you are dead to me. 1 stars
1/09/01 fifu this is a modern day B movie (the aliens eat there brains) 2 stars
12/27/00 fifu well Rodriguez sucks. this is one of the worst movies i have ever seen(aliens eat brains?) 1 stars
10/16/00 wrob The social commentary was probably lost on the audience. Excellent effects. 5 stars
9/23/00 Terrie Smith Not much on plot and especially the acting but the computer graphics were great. 4 stars
8/01/00 Bruce Not for the sqeamish, but it is a wild ride 5 stars
7/30/00 Will Mays 100% communal showers. i gotta try that sometime 2 stars
5/03/00 P.Rodriguez 2nd BEST FILM EVER!! (only Gataca beats it) 5 stars
4/07/00 Gremlin Tell me again why they just didn't nuke the whole hell hole. Kick ass movie! 5 stars
4/06/00 Meat Popsicle It SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! 1 stars
3/25/00 DJ If you ignore the fact that there was a book before, a fairly decent movie 4 stars
3/17/00 Lame-Oh much better than the genuinely pathetic Wing Commander 4 stars
3/03/00 Richard Wright Funny satire and exciting (but gory) action sequences make this well worth watching. 4 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski I saw "Showgirls." I burned Verhoeven at the stake. I saw this. All was forgiven. :-) 5 stars
1/10/00 Will that was almost satirical, in a way. Okay, in a small way. Very small. 5 stars
12/13/99 little jerry Verhoeven can do no wrong.(inc.Showgirls).Spielberg must have seen this when planning RYAN. 5 stars
9/18/99 Ratso Don't talk about Carmen that way! 5 stars
9/06/99 godsdog The only good thing about this film is Dina Meyer, she's got it. Film failed at everything 2 stars
5/11/99 Ghost Awesome movie. Not accurate to the book in some senses, but in others it is. 4 stars
5/08/99 Rudiger Fortesque III I saw it three times. 1st-plot, 2nd and 3rd-nudity and gore 5 stars
4/26/99 twisted barbie 90210 meets outer space....I got some great laughs from this one! 1 stars
3/18/99 Max Bernstein Fuck Doogie Howser. Only good parts was the t!ts. What can I say? I love t!ts! 1 stars
3/17/99 Ah Dooey Better than that vile movie Wing Commander 4 stars
3/14/99 Love Donkey Ultra-violent retard schlock.Offensive. 1 stars
3/11/99 perlpex A move that not many people understand - THEY ARE TOO NARROW MINDED! 5 stars
2/24/99 Scott 1st understand what the director is doing-then you will get this flick & love it 5 stars
2/20/99 Piz a product for 12 year olds with an R rating 2 stars
2/02/99 Matthew Bartley For all that is sacred DONT SEE THIS FILM!!!!! 1 stars
1/08/99 Jo Mama fun movie. guns, hotties, and violence.luved it. 4 stars
1/07/99 Juan Carlos Rey Actors suffered from "Cutthroat Island" Syndrome... too happy amidst brutal death and shit. 2 stars
12/31/98 JDC an almost deliberate mockery of the Heinlein novel on which it's based. 2 stars
12/15/98 Felixmeister Verhoeven once again takes an idea and reduces it to pure infantile gore. 1 stars
12/07/98 Shadow Raider The buggers in this flick are kick-ass than the ones in Mimic and ID4. Watch it! 4 stars
12/04/98 Shadow Raider Excellent battle scenes, action, story and FX, great trailer. Oh well... watch it. 4 stars
11/28/98 Mr.Pink This movie ROCKS! Verhoeven's sadistic in-joke has the best battlescenes ever!Great!!! 5 stars
11/14/98 Per Kihlborg This is by far the worst movie I have ever seen, and I sat trough Hobgoblins!! 1 stars
11/06/98 bvw every shot is a special effect. this shit is awesome. hot chick, too. 5 stars
11/05/98 Bad Kosh Worth a look, better than that ID4 shit, you gotta love it... 4 stars
10/27/98 Cage Super!!! Wow!!! Great FX, action, story, characters.. Nuke'm Rico!! 5 stars
10/18/98 Sailor Moon Ate My Balls Full of intense action and fun, this you gotta watch! 4 stars
10/07/98 Maegs Found it satirical. Lost * for Denise--she's Smack-able 4 stars
10/02/98 Division 6 Great flick! Is a movie ever faithful to the book? Then shuddup and like it. 5 stars
9/26/98 B.O.B OH MY GOD! Vorhoeven KILLED STARSHIP TOOPERS! YOU BASTARD! 1 stars
9/26/98 Jeff Heintz IT IS FUCKING AWESOME!!! 5 stars
9/16/98 Trav Wonderful, funny film. But Denise Richards sucks, and almost ruined it! 5 stars
9/07/98 BBReBozo Who the fuck does not-naked-getting Denise Richards thinks she is? 4 stars
9/06/98 Young Einstein Two words. Denise Richards. 4 stars
9/05/98 Jon Liked it. 4 stars
8/31/98 Matt well, there was nudity and fighting and stuff, but the ending made me angry 3 stars
8/25/98 The Capital City Goofball Could have done without Jake BUsey's ass. 3 stars
8/23/98 Superfly I expected it to suck very badly, maybe that's why I thought it was so good. 4 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet Too much Richards is never enough. And shower scenes. 4 stars
8/17/98 Johny amazingly bad acting, but the fun and satire mix well 4 stars
8/17/98 J-Guy (The MFC) they tried to make a point about violence. It ended up looking like a bad movie. 2 stars
8/17/98 {{{OZ}}} For all it's problems, this was actually fun to sit through. Denise has teeth n'stuff 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  07-Nov-1997 (R)

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