Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more? There are some films that when they come out you will either hate or love with no middle ground whatsoever, Starship Troopers is one of those films. Some people can not stand it no matter what and others will watch it again and again. Is it cheesy? Yes! Could it be called bad SciFi? Yes! But so can Eureka and fans love that one around the world and even it has been using cues from Starship Troopers with its Astraus Project story arc. Myself I have seen the film a few dozen times and my own wife threatened to destroy the disk if I didn’t stop watching it. Does that mean that I am going to give it a glowing review? Maybe, but I know where the film could be better and what it did wrong, I just like the film because of the concept. It is not as good as the animated Roughneck Series but it does introduce viewers to a whole new concept of Science Fiction Horror with a bit of comedy thrown in. MEDIC! To understand that last one you will just have to see the film.
The film is an adaptation and follows the same kind of story telling that was in the book Starship Troopers, a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, that won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. When reading the synopses of the book you see that the film keeps most of the main elements which might explain why the film has the following that it does. It is the story about a young man graduating from high school that decides to join up for Federal Service to become a citizen. To some this might seem rather strange but it is explained in the film that it is the citizen’s job to make sure that other citizens and civilians are protected at all time. Because they sacrifice so much for others then themselves they are given the right to vote and to hold office. Civilians are protected and have every right that Citizens do except voting and public office. In some ways that does make sense but I am here to tell you about the film and not to do a political debate. (*grin*)
Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) wants Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) and Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer) wants him but he just wants to be friends with her. Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) is friends with them all and a psychic. They have all grew up together in the town of Buenos Aires and are the best of friends. It is now their graduation year and they are thinking ahead to their futures and what they want to do with their lives. That is where a movie would normally start but Starship Troopers actually starts in the middle with Johnny and his squad from basic in the middle of battle with their unit being torn apart. They are at war with the Arachnids and they are trying to clean the main Bug planet Klendathu to get rid of the bug menace for good. Little did they realize just how many bugs there would be or how ineffective their air and ground assault could be. It seems that the bugs have some kind of intelligence and are not just random dumb creatures that want to eat everything around them. They have a purpose and it is to make sure that only they are in the universe and nothing else except their food. One of the last scenes of that battle is that of Rico seemingly being killed by a warrior Arachnids bug and then the video just fuzzes out and we see the events from a year ago and Rico’s graduation.
When the trio, Carl, Johnny and Carmen go to check out about Federal Service they each get sent to different places according to their own strength and talents. Carl with his mental abilities is sent to Games and Theory, Military Intelligence. Carmen with her excellent math scores and daringness is sent to pilot training at the Fleet Academy on the moon. Johnny with his athletic skills is sent to join the Mobile Infantry at the highest rated training camp that the Federation has, Camp Arthur Currie. It is there that Dizzy meets up with Johnny after joining the Mobile Infantry and then getting herself transferred to his unit. She wants to stay as close to him as she can hoping that she might get lucky and have him. With Ibanez on the Moon she will be able to have more access to him then Carmen would. It is also during boot camp that Carmen dumps Rico. With his emotions in a mess Rico is wondering why he ever joined up, he only did it to be closer to Carmen and not that is never going to happen.
There is so much going on in this film, more then you would ever think from a campy scifi film that you could literally write books about everything that is going on here. We see how the relationships of the young people are developing, how they try to take control of their own lives and how they relate to one another and their families. Carmen’s father is ecstatic, Carls mom is indifferent and Rico’s father disowns him. Johnny’s father (Christopher Curry) would rather see his son take lashes in public then see him throw his life away. Just before the bug war begins Johnny starts to feel the same way. Under his command, which Dizzy helped him get, he saw one of his team mates shot dead in the head and the future politician wannabe thrown out of the training program. Even though he took administrative punishment for his failure on the training course he still feels that he has failed and wants to return home. While on the vid link with his parents the link goes dead and he finds out that it was the bugs that shot a meteor out of the sky and it landed on his home town of Buenos Aires. He rushes to command and talks his way back into the training program and into the Mobile Infantry. He and others want to make sure that the bugs pay and they are going to do it by killing every last bug on Klendathu. Taking us back to where the movie started out.
After Rico falls we find him in sick bay being repaired as Dizzy and Ace Levy (Jake Busey) come to tell him that he has actually been declared dead and making a big joke of it. Even though they know that he is alive and it is nothing more then a clerical error Carmen doesn’t know that. She checks the list of the fallen and sees the name of Rico and falls apart right in front of her new boyfriend and copilot Zander Barcalow (Patrick Muldoon). Sure she didn’t want to be his girlfriend any more but she still has feelings for her friend, maybe more feelings then she really wanted to admit to in the first place.
After Rico is released from medical he along with Ace and Dizzy are reassigned to a new unit, the Roughnecks. It is one of the highest decorated units with the biggest count of bug deaths in the entire Federation Mobile Infantry and it is lead by Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside). Dizzy and Johnny already know Lt. Rasczak as he was one of their instructors in high school back in Buenos Aires. They are shocked to see that someone actually survived the devastation that took place in their home town. At first Rasczak doesn’t even acknowledge that he knows the 2 but as the film goes on he makes sure that Rico has more and more responsibility and is eventually the one that will replace him.
The film is full of all different kinds of passion and should have done better when it first came out but was a victim of the times. Churches and religious groups tore it apart for its lack of spiritualism. Political groups tore it apart because it promoted a society that just did not mesh with their views in much the same way that they did with Star Trek. At least Star Trek already had a following to make sure that the films did well. No mater what your views might be this really is a well made film and is worth at least one view, or if your like me maybe a few dozen more views. “Remember, service guarantees citizenship”
I give this film a Musing review of