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Overall Rating

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 Brian McKay

"All Bugs and No Power Armor makes Johnny Rico a mediocre boy"
3 stars

I am generally not a proponent of slavish adaptation, and understand that when converting from novel to the silver screen, some liberties must usually be taken. Especially in the case of Robert Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS, whose scant 200 pages barely qualifies it as a novel in the first place. But when doing an adaptation, isn't the general idea to leave in all the best stuff, and get rid of some of the crap?

The novel Starship Troopers began with a terrific action sequence as Johnny Rico and his squad did an orbital skydive onto an alien planet, then proceeded to tear the place up as they hopped around in super-powered suits of armor that bristled with weapons and high-tech gadgetry. Unfortunately, after that first chapter, things kind of went downhill. Starship Troopers got short on action and long on political commentary (like Heinlein always did), but he still managed to create an interesting enough pallette of characters against an interesting futuristic society.

Starship Troopers, the movie, has twice the action but none of the cool gadgetry. Most of the young cast is either bland or annoying, and with the exception of Dina Meyer, you don't really care if they live or die (in fact, I wanted Denise Richard's character to die many times over). Director Paul Verhoeven's attempt at portraying the quasi-facist government of the future are laughable at best, with over the top "FedNet" commercial interludes and officer's uniforms that look like something out of the Tommy Hilfiger Third Reich Spring Collection catalog.

It is "The Future" (da da dum). Buenos Aires (???) is inhabited by pretty lily-white teenagers, apparently the offspring of twentieth century Nazi war criminals. Johnny Rico (who was Phillipino in the novel, but is now portrayed by Aryan poster-boy Casper Van Diem) is the High School quarterback chasing after Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards, as toothy and pretty and empty-headed as ever). All Carmen wants to do when she graduates is become a military pilot, and with her top-notch math skills, she's sure to be a shoe-in. Johnny is intent on signing up with the military just so he can be close to Carmen, against the wishes of his rich parents. Meanwhile, classmate Dizzy Flores (the yummy Dina Meyer) is in love with Johnny, though she is unsuccesful in diverting his attention from Carmen.

When an outlying colony of Mormons are attacked by giant alien bugs, however, the war is on. (On a side note, this scene - which showed a variety of body parts strewn across the ruins of "Port Joe Smith", whilst the spire of a Mormon temple rises above the massacre, brought no end of laughter and snickering from the crowd when I first saw this in Salt Lake City). Carmen runs off to join the military, along with Johnny's best friend, a psychic wunderkind named Carl (Neil Patrick Harris, who ends up looking like Doogie Howser: S.S. in one of the aforementioned uniforms). Not wanting to be left behind, Johnny also signs up, but his grades reveal that he is too dumb to become a pilot with Carmen. Welcome to the Mobile Infantry, Son! Dizzy, who was probably smart enough to do better, follows her beloved Johnny into the M.I.

Sounds like a lame teenybopper soap opera so far, right? It is, but things are about to get better.

After getting stabbed, shot at, and beaten up on a regular basis by Drill Sergeant Zim (Clancy Brown), they are sent into action after Buenos Aires is nuked by a bug asteroid (more on that in a moment). On their first meeting with the bugs, our overly-cocky teen soldiers get their asses (and arms, and legs, and spleens) handed to them by a rabid swarm of 8-foot tall arachnids that seem to have no thought process other than "kill Kill KILL". While the swarms of CGI bugs look absolutely amazing (especially in the Planet P Outpost scene modeled after Zulu, where spear-wielding natives are replaced by thousands of bugs swarming the compound), the bugs themselves aren't all that interesting. Granted, not much was revealed about the enigmatic arachnids in the novel, but they were certainly a more intriguing hive-mind race, and obviously advanced to the point of having space travel and high-tech weapons. These bugs are just a bunch of dumb, rabid walking mandibles of death.

The survivors of the disastrous first encounter are regrouped and assigned to "Razack's Roughnecks", who just happens to be led by their hard-assed former high school teacher, Jean Razack (Michael Ironside). There are more battles, more pointless love triangles, more people dying, until the final battle where the M.I. has to try to capture a "Brain Bug" while also rescuing Carmen, whose ship has crash-landed nearby.

Besides ripping troopers to shreds with their bare . . . whatevers, the Bugs' large-scale weapons include acid-spewing "tanker" bugs, and big "plasma" bugs who shoot anti-spacecraft flack out of their asses. (I'd hate to be the worker bug who has to hold the lighter up to those cheeks). Also, they can apparently use these jets of plasma to hurl asteroids across the galaxy and smash Earth with them. (They're going to calculate mind-boggling interstellar trajectories and propel asteroids all the way to Earth . . . using Ass-Plasma. Uh-huh.)

Utter stupidities and other scientific impossibilities, like the one mentioned above, litter the script like trooper body parts. When it's not attributing ridiculous feats of interstellar travel to a bunch of dumb bugs, or getting muddled down in the I-love-him-but-he-loves-her-but-she-likes-that-other-guy ridiculousness (though it's still not as unbearable as Pearl Harbor), the film's message about the nature of a facist government are campy at best, as troopers hand out live rounds to kids as souveniers and criminals are executed on prime-time FedNet.

My biggest bitch about the movie, though, is the cheesy armor and weapons. Granted, the power armor of the novel wasn't the central theme, but it was certainly a noteworthy part of the story. The armor in the book was described as making the wearer look like a "big steel gorilla", with the ability to leap over low structures, smash up an alien city, and carry a giddy array of weaponry. None of that here though, folks. Just some cheap-looking body armor that looks like it came from James Cameron's garage sale after he wrapped Aliens, and some dressed-up M-16's. No leaping. No smashing. No gadget fun. Even a scene with Rico wearing anti-grav boots and leaping out of the bug fray with them was cut before filming. Jesus, Verhoeven, you mean to tell me with all that money for a cast of thousands of bugs, you couldn't spend a little more on some decent hardware for our boys and girls? The suits of armor from the defunct FOX network's Space: Above and Beyond looked better than that shit. Thankfully, the CG-animated series Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles, while not improving much on the story or characters, at least delivers some cool hardware, including jump jets and mech walker units.

So, I've spent a lot of time harping on this film. Yet I've seen it at least five fucking times. Why do I watch this every time it comes on Late-night HBO? Well, obviously, the film does something right - though most of it is in the eye-candy department. Besides the beautifully rendered swarms of bugs, there is gore aplenty. Bugs getting blown up, shot up, splattered. Humans getting decapitated, eviscerated, even melted with acid bug-breath. Lots of pretty gunfire and explosions, etcetera (supposedly, more ammunition was used in Starship Troopers than in any previous movie). Then you've got the gratuitous co-ed trooper shower scene, and the lovely Dina Meyer showing her nice, natural cans not once, but twice! (including one very sexy "hold her shirt up over her head" scene). Denise Richards, oddly enough, remains fully dressed. (Isn't the good actress supposed to keep her clothes on, while the talentless ditz provides the nudity quotient?). Besides Meyer, whose Dizzy Flores is the only character in this thing I ever gave a damn about, there are also enjoyable, albeit two-dimensional, performances from Brown and Ironside.

Drive-In Triple Feature Grab a Pulse Rifle and a Can of Raid Picks for Starship Troopers:

Aliens: The movie that coined the phrase "Bug Hunt" and has been mimicked by many lesser films . . . like this one. "That's great, man! Why don't you just put HER in charge!"

Pitch Black: Giant bugs with sonar! Okay, not the greatest movie, but some decent moments of action/suspense and some cool alien landscapes. Also noteworthy for making Vin Diesel a star - though whether that's a good thing or not, I leave for you to decide. Still, it was pretty cool when he said: "Did NOT know who he was FUCKIN' wif!"

I guess it's okay to like this movie, as long as you're honest about what it is. It's a bucket of Sci-fi fast food, with extra gore and a side order of tits. To go.

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originally posted: 11/13/02 16:25:16
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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
9/05/10 Bellering Plain Just saw it in a theatre two nights 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
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 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 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
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  07-Nov-1997 (R)



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