Thursday, June 17, 2010

Starship Troopers

Paul Verhoeven did a few pretty enjoyable, over-the-top action movies in his day, and if all you care about is violence, there's quite a bit to like about Starship Troopers. There's a lot of alien bugs getting shot hundreds of times and peppered with explosives, and a lot of humans getting eviscerated to shreds. The visual effects hold up surprisingly well even 13 years later, and while I have to say the human's strategy for taking on their foe is amazingly stupid, I had a pretty good time watching it. The problem to me is the way the film seems to treat its source material with contempt. It only became an adaptation of Robert Heinlein's novel partway through development, and Verhoeven has said publicly he couldn't finish it because he hated it so much, and yet he's the guy who made the movie. People point to the movie's idiocy and call it satire, but what's the point of only parodying the book your film is based on, a then-38 year old novel that most of your audience isn't going to be familiar with? It's an exercise in pointlessness. From what I've heard about the book, a modern adaptation could have been really interesting, but instead they decided to misrepresent its politics and philosophy and dress the good guys up like Nazis.

So yeah, the movie is aggressively dumb throughout its running time. I shudder to think of a future where Denise Richards is smart enough to be considered an excellent candidate for a military pilot position. Casper Van Dien is the attractive main character you haven't heard a thing about in the last decade, and he's equally as irritating. Neil Patrick Harris is made unlikable on the rare occasion when he shows up, and the rest of the cast is just hard to believe as soldiers who are supposed to be trained enough to take on gigantic monsters. Michael Ironside is bad ass as always, but he's the only character I can say I liked. Oh, and Amy Smart is another pilot. God help us all. The movie drags whenever the humans aren't getting torn to pieces, and it definitely tries too hard to be funny. Paul Verhoeven thrives when he's shooting something ludicrously bloody and violent, but pretty much anything else and he's a bad choice. There were parts of this movie I definitely liked, but I really didn't enjoy its tone or a great deal of its content. I won't go so far as to call it unwatchable, but it's pretty regrettable.

1 comment:

sluggwood said...

I liked the shower scene.