Starship Troopers is a 1997 sci-fi action film loosely based on the Robert A. Heinlein novel. It involves Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), a high schooler in a futuristic fascist nation. Everything is controlled by the government, and there are two classes “ civilian and citizen. A civilian cannot vote. A citizen can, but with a catch: in order to become a citizen, you must serve 2 years in the military. Meanwhile, a far away race called the Arachnids (or ‘bugs’) send a meteorite covered with their kind towards Earth. Space defence fails to deflect the attack, and it hits a South American city killing 8 million people. The government decides to go to war with the bugs on their home planet Klendathu.
Rico decides to join up to keep his girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards), as she wants to be a pilot. However, once things start to get more violent and the starship troopers slowly start to lose their humanity, Rico and his friends discover they are fighting for the fate of mankind. The novel, which I confess to having not read, was written by influential science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein. The film supposedly takes many liberties with the plot, which would bother people who are fans of the novel. For the most part, the script is very good, with only a few minor hiccups every now and then with a cheesy line there or a small plot hole here. None of it really does take away from the experience, but it’s worth noting. The performances in Starship Troopers are mostly good with the worst performer undeniably being Casper Van Dien as Rico, which is annoying considering you’re stuck with him the whole movie. The supporting cast, however, features excellent performances from Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, and the always enjoyable Michael Ironside.
The special effects are where Starship Troopers really stands out. The bugs are some of the most real looking CGI monsters ever put on screen. The scope of the battle sequences are enormous, which isn’t surprising considering the film had a budget of around $100 million. Speaking of the battle sequences, Starship Troopers is a very violent film. Multiple beheadings, people getting ripped to shreds or impaled, and limbs getting shot, torn, or burnt off. Keep in mind, this is all in full view. The violence is graphic and sustained. But somehow, it doesn’t feel unnecessary, as it contributes to the growth of the characters, and as they become less like the boys at the beginning and more like cold military men, it shows the brutality and pain, physical and mental, that these people have to go through. This is not Star Wars.
Starship Troopers is one of the best examples of an adult sci-fi action film. It’s complex, it’s violent, and above all else, it’s fun. Some actors in the movie, like Michael Ironside or Clancy Brown, have been in quite a few military films, but it really shows the diversity of some actors like Neil Patrick Harris, who is best known as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother. If people are expecting that then they are very mislead. You find yourself caring when a character dies, even if you can’t remember their names. Starship Troopers a fantastic action romp with some political satire and irony thrown in for good measure.