So the Hubster and I went to RiffTrax’s broadcast of Starship Troopers last night – if you’re not familiar with RiffTrax, these are some of the same guys from Mystery Science Theatre 3000. If you’re not familiar with MST3K then I can’t help you. I also feel sorry for you.
At any rate, I was actually seeing the entirety of Starship Troopers for the very first time (unlike the Hubster, who actually paid money to see the thing in a movie theater) and I was wondering several times during the movie if the film was actually as bad as all that. The answer is:
Starship Troopers is the name of a Robert Heinlein novel from 1959, which is actually more of a first-person narrative about a group of young soldiers fighting a big passel of “bugs”. And … that’s pretty much where the similarities end. The novel itself is more philosophical in nature, exploring fascism and militarism and the moral implications thereof while fighting another sentient race. The book actually has very little action in it, and several books (by people other than Heinlein) followed that picked up the notion of a youth army (by youth I mean fresh out of high school) fighting bugs or possibly bugs in a human Viet Cong disguise.
So what makes the movie so bad?
Is it the bugs? (no, they’re pretty cool looking)
The wooden acting of Casper Van Dien? (possibly)
The big scary teeth of Denise Richards? (definitely)
The Hugo Boss/pseudo-SS uniform the Neil Patrick Harris (although he makes the uniform look good)
I think the director (Paul Verhoeven) was really trying to make a satire of war propaganda films using the notion of the world’s youth being drawn into this relatively unnecessary war. I say relatively because I’m a pacifist and a dirty liberal, but the point is made that the bugs were trying to learn about the humans as much as the humans were trying to learn about the bugs – and considering that the bugs were probably provoke when the humans tried to take over their planet, probably hostilely … oh, whatever. The gen pop doesn’t really understand what satire is anyway. Look at how many times you see The Colbert Report featured on FOX News.
At any rate, the movie is flawed. The plot has almost more holes than the number of bullet holes that needed to be blown into a single bug to kill it. See, there’s a flaw right there. We watched nearly endless footage of the soldiers firing repeating machine guns at the bugs, and it seemed to take about 4000 bullets to actually kill a bug. Furthermore, no one carried cartridges or ammunition belts (except for one throwaway line seemingly tossed in to answer this flaw) so I guess the guns magically reloaded themselves.
Now about the bugs themselves … we never saw any pupae or chrysalis or cocoons or anything, so I’m guessing the bugs just sprang full-grown from the ground. Since the planets these bugs live on seem to have zero vegetation, what do these damn things eat? We know they aren’t carnivores because the bugs don’t eat the human corpses. Although that one bug did attack that cow mercilessly. I mean, the majority of the bugs look like leaf-cutters, so what’s the deal? Maybe the bugs ate all their vegetation, I don’t know.
You’d think, too, since the humans have been out there in the Klendathu or Klaatu or Katmandu or whatever damned place this is, coupled with the fact that humans have been able to capture enough living bugs to both do military experiments on them and to use the little ones as high-school dissection projects, that the humans would have been able to have a) a MUCH better attack plan, and b) MUCH better weaponry than having to hit the damn bugs with 4000+ bullets.
Oh, yes, the movie is flawed. Very much so. I still have so many questions, like:
When did Buenos Aries turn nearly racially Caucasian?
Why did a blast door close on top of the fleet captain woman when we have the technology in our current garage doors to keep that from happening?
Who let Gary Busey breed?
So now, back to the original question: Is the movie Starship Troopers really that bad?
Ummmm … could I get a cheeseburger instead?