Thursday, 26 July 2012



I love the original Starship Troopers. I first saw it at the Odeon Camden and my hopes weren't high when I saw it had been given a 15 certificate, which was unthinkable for a Paul Verhoeven film. But that didn't last long: the BBFC did admit they'd got that one wrong, with the astonishing cavalcade of blood, gore, severed heads, dismemberment, disembowellings and thousands of freaky giant bug monsters ripping screaming humans to pieces to a roaring Basil Poledouris soundtrack. Plus oodles of political satire, hilarious fascist propaganda, nudity, ripe acting and terrific visual effects. It's great.

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder isn't in the same league, though it is significantly better than the lame second film, Hero Of The Federation. It pulls back the impossibly square-jawed Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) from the first film, still leading the infantry against the bugs on a farming planet that's of great strategic significance to both sides. Enter singing (!) Sky Marshal Anoke, along with his arsehole aide General Dix, and Dix's fiancee Lola (Joelene Blalock). But while Rico faces a court-martial and public execution for alleged insubordination, the Sky Marshal and his entourage crashland on another desert planet and need rescuing from the bugs - because Lola is the only person who knows the location of the Earth Sanctuary base, and this information cannot fall into the claws of the enemy....

Religion also gets a pounding here, with the Earth Federation clamping down on all that peace and love hogwash as sedition and treason - until they realise they can harness the power of religion to fight the good fight: "Yes, there is a God, and Yes, He wants us to win!" Incidentally, the IMDb user reviews section showcases a fine selection of clueless halfwits having not the first idea of what they're bleating about, missing the point of the religious angle so comprehensively that it surely has to be deliberate. It's satirical, you dolts.

There's plenty of blood, gore and monster mashing on display - Van Dien's first line to a trooper after a bug attack is "Find out who this arm belongs to!". It's a pity that some of the effects work is a touch below par even for a franchise sequel shot on a low budget which the IMDb estimates at a mere $9m. The desert landscapes look great (it was shot in South Africa) and some of the "Would You Like To Know More?" propaganda inserts are hilarious. Starship Troopers 3 isn't close to Verhoeven's original, though it has some of the same spirit, probably because Ed Neumeier's written and directed it. And though some of the film doesn't hang together - the plot requires Dix to be an unthinking and unreasoning idiot in the early stages - it's generally good fun.



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