Starring: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Running Time: 129 mins
Starship Troopers is an American film about a group of high school graduates who join up to fight in humanity’s deepening conflict with an interplanetary bug species.
A fantastic war film through and through, Starship Troopers combines thrilling action with gripping drama and, most distinctively, great humour. Playing on tropes of war cinema and recent history while telling its own story, this is such a sharp watch that proves thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.
First off, if you’re going into Starship Troopers expecting rollicking laughs or intense war action, you’re going to be disappointed on both counts. Instead, the film hits a brilliant sweet spot that provides a bit of both, without cheapening either element in the process.
From the off, the film’s satirical energy is evident, immediately mimicking the style of classic war films like Why We Fight in order to give you context and comparison for the intergalactic battle you’ll see unfold over the next two hours.
It’s very easy to go into Starship Troopers expecting pure sci-fi, and while that may be the case on the surface, there’s very little in the way of the sci-fi lore and detail that die-hard fans it the genre will be looking for.
That’s why, if you look at this as a war film, you’ll really be able to love Starship Troopers for what it is.
The first half of the movie in particular is outstanding, with brilliant parallels to classic war films like From Here To Eternity and Full Metal Jacket, using our expectations of war learned through the movies to perform its satire on conflict.
Those homages and parallels are also a really great way of providing some familiarity for the audience as the film sets up its far-future conflict, only straying away in the latter stages as it tells its own story.
If you are looking for satire and emotional drama, then the film’s first half will certainly be your cup of tea. If it’s action you’re after, then you’ll have to wait a little while for the battle to really get started.
Admittedly, Starship Troopers loses a little bit of its spark by moving towards an action-heavy narrative later on, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way boring, and you’re certainly more invested in the action having formed a strong bond with the main characters.
Again, looking past the sci-fi exterior, Starship Troopers is at heart a story of friends who join up to the army and advance through the ranks together, facing joy and tragedy along the way.
It’s a classic story of not just cinema, but all war literature in the past, and it goes to show just how much more Starship Troopers has to offer than may seem the case at first glance.
With brilliant, sharp satirical humour, captivating drama, fantastic action, great homages to classics of war cinema and so much more, Starship Troopers is a really excellent watch from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.4 overall.