Starship Troopers? Thanks, But No Thanks!

Some of you who follow this blog know that I’m making an attempt at covering a whole wide range of war movies, including different sub genres and movies which are not “real” war movies but movies set in times of war. One sub genre I only brushed so far is the Sci-Fi war movie. I did a post on Battlestar Galactica a while back but that’s about it. Starship Troopers is one of the movies of the sub genre which is included in many books, analyzed thoroughly and deemed worthy to be seen by many experts.

Now that I have suffered through half of it I really wonder, what the heck this movie was meant to be? A parody? A satire? An advert for dental floss – there is a lot of white teeth flashing at the camera going on in this movie, believe me – ?

I tried. I failed. I don’t think I will ever be able to finish watching this movie.

Have I learned something? Yes. I hate movies which remind me of tooth paste adverts.

For those of you who are still interested, here’s the trailer.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Feel free to enlighten me.

24 thoughts on “Starship Troopers? Thanks, But No Thanks!

  1. Casey says:

    Well if you hate the movie ,you hate the movie and I wont try to convince you other wise.
    I believe what the directors were trying to do was a very tongue-in-cheek parody on fascism. There are numerous Leni Riefenstah style shots that seem almost directly lifted. Often the viewer is shown “many as one” and “do it for the state” type fascist ideology even if they do it comically.
    Keep in mind this movie was directed by the same fellow who brought us RoboCop and Total Recall. What point he is trying to make is never done in a serious manner.
    I personally look at it as fun movie that tries to make a point. It seems to be streamlined as a pill the viewer in the US could swallow easily, with the football and girl sub plots, and a heavy dash of comedy.

    • Thanks for your comment and I can sort of see where you’re coming from. I know people are divided on this and was actually curious to find out how I would like it. I read some interesting interpretations of it but somehow when I watched it I couldn’t see the parody anymore, I only found it annoying. Maybe it’s getting better towards the end? I had afeeling that he tried to make us believe it was satirical but at the heart of it it wasn’t really, if you know what I mean. It’s a mixed message.

  2. obooki says:

    If you hated Starship Troopers, I can’t imagine what you’d make of Starship Troopers 2 and 3. Starship Troopers is a masterpiece in comparison.

    Ah, Paul Verhoeven! Have you watched Soldier of Orange yet in this series? Before he went to Hollywood and specialised in exploitative rubbish, Verhoeven made some really good films – Turks Fruit is, I heard, considered the greatest Dutch film of all time.

    • I don’t even want to imagine what they are like… Satires comes in differnt forms but this one was beyond awful. i’m waiting for the day someone will make a parody of this. I might enjoy that.
      Thanks for the suggestions but I’ve had my dose Verhoeven for the moment.

      • obooki says:

        OK, but I’d just like to emphasis that the Paul Verhoeven who made Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct, and Paul Verhoeven who made the early Dutch films, might as well be two different people. Soldier of Orange, as far as I remember, is about the effect that the German occupation of Holland in WW11 has on a group of 4 friends, some of whom fight against the regime and some of whom collaborate. It was the film which Steven Spielberg saw and said to Verhoeven, and I’m paraphrasing here slightly, “You don’t want to make these interesting, worthwhile films in Dutch which are never going to make you any money. Why not come to Hollywood and make crap and get paid obscene amounts of money for it?” To which I’m supposing Verhoeven replied, “OK”.

      • It’s almost sad…. I should the after all try and watch one from the Dutch period.
        I feel similar about Peter Weir. I love his Australian movies but most of the US ones are just …. Master and Commander is good though.

    • nem baj says:

      Oddly enough maybe, I do not think there is a dividing line beetween Verhoeven’s Dutch and Hollywood movies. His auteurish themes, rough angles and dark vision of mankind haven’t changed, and neither did his visual maestria.

      Of course when he misses, for instance in Hollow Man, he now misses big time from a budget and audience point of view, whereas the failure of Spetters was more confidential.

  3. the war movie buff says:

    You stopped watching right before the greatest scene in war movie history! Just kidding. I like the movie, but not because of the messages and satire. Treated just as an action flick, it is giddy. The satire is so heavy handed you can’t take it seriously. It is a popcorn flick for guys. I am not at all surprised that you did not like it. The CGI is surprisingly good. The acting is pretty bad. The violence is immense. The cliches are trite, but there are some twists that cancel them.

    P.S. In the future, everyone’s teeth will be bright white. One of the benefits of fascism.

    • I’m not sure this is a “guy” thing. I’m pretty sure it appeals to some women, as there are quitea lot of femae actors in it.
      maybe with good actors, even with white teeth flashing and all that, it would have worked better.

  4. Guy Savage says:

    Caroline: I can’t enlighten you as I’m not into trying to persuade people that they ‘missed’ something or that they didn’t react in a ‘right’ way. Taste is taste. I loved this film and found it be great fun.

  5. Novroz says:

    *high Five* Glad to know that someone I know dislike the movie too!
    I saw it because, just like you, a lot of people said it was good…but I really don’t get it. You know that I love Sci-Fi but really this movie is so out of my taste.

    I watched it till the end because it was on TV and nothing else was good…even until the end I still think the movie is pointless. It has been repeated several times in TV but I never see it again

    • That makes three of us it seems.
      It’s interesting how some movies just divide people.
      I don’t know whether I didn’t get it or whether it’s just not my taste or as Kevin says “It’s a guy thing”…There are so many movies out there. Why bother with something I don’t get/like?

      • Novroz says:

        Same thinking here Caroline 😉
        I also don’t bother much toward movies (or books) I don’t like even though many like them.

  6. nem baj says:

    Aaah, I love Starship Troopers. I think Casey’s first comment is spot on, and so is your remark about the white teeth shots: actually it is ‘Leni Riefenstahl meets Madison avenue’. And a parody of many war films either already made or to come (you know, those movies where so many enemies fall like flies, so why shouldn’t giant cockroaches?), not to mention most of today’s rendition of war in TV news. ST is about many things. Too many, perhaps, but in my opinion it makes some good points. I’ll just try to point out two of them.

    First, the relationships beetween image and war. Wars need images, for fighters, for civilians, for the enemy even. Before the age of film, parades, sophisticated uniforms and public rituals were used to that effect. To make war means to make (and control) images, in order to inspire awe, cohesion, support, you name it… images that perform a certain function. Images that hold a simple promise. Like advertising. Indeed, the position of the viewer in ST is unbearable, as would be our lives if we were stuck in a lifelong commercial. But then, are we sure it isn’t already the case ? Click here to read more… 🙂

    Secondly, there is an attempt in ST at imagining warfare in the age of gender equality, the latter being a classic Verhoeven theme. Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket made an impressive job at pointing out to what extent war might be about an exclusive conception of manhood (kill your feminine side during training, kill the enemy woman in the end). But how does this work when women become an increasing part of combat units and of the decision-making processes ? My guess is that in ST, the blurring of sexual difference on the ‘human’ side has its exact counterpart in the fact that the enemy is designated as a part of a society (be it a society of insects) where this debate does not exist – and thus, is to be wiped out entirely, in the name of ‘values’ it cannot possibly share. Does this ring a bell?

    • Interesting thoughts.
      I guess if it had been more Leni Riefenstahl amd less Madison avenue it would have worked better for me.
      I see how it can be interpreted as being about the relationship between image and war. But for me this is a bit like The Hunger Games, the interpretation is more interesting than the product it is based on.
      I think however you have a point when yu say it’s alos about warfare and gender equality and this supporst my point. This isn’t a movie aimed at a male public only. On the very contrary and as far as I remember Verhoeven’s women are often powerful.

      • nem baj says:

        I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Marine Corps TV commercials ? They have been running on US television networks for ages, the latest being here. This is the world of Starship Troopers. No disrespect meant to those who fight, I’d rather laugh about the imagery… yet acknowledge it is one of our times.

        But indeed on aesthetic grounds we’re far from minimalism. Which by the way has not always been used to glorify collective heroism (Riefenstahl, Eisenstein). In Melville’s Army of shadows minimalism renders the loneliness of moral conflicts among men and women of action. And in Jancso’s The Red and the White (1967) it conveys the global absurdity of a post-WWI (counter-)revolutionary war, shot like a beautiful but senseless choreography.

      • I have never seen anything like this, nor even knew it existed… I live in Europe and don’t think something like this is shown as a commercial anywhere. Thanks do much for this.
        I’m very fond of L’armée des ombres, the type of minimalism used is amazing. I still remember one scene in which all we hear is a clock ticking and it’s very eerie.
        I haven’t seen the movie you mention. Another one to put on my list. Thanks.

  7. historyonfilm says:

    I really enjoyed the movie, and I thought it had some great action scenes, although I found the female pilot really annoying. Verhoven and his scriptwriter had looked at a lot of propaganda from WWII before making the movie, and they kind of overdid the satire.

  8. Ah yes, “Starship Troopers” – one of those movies that divide people into “love it” or “hate it” (well, a few end up in the “didn’t get it” and “meh” camps, but they don’t count). It is amazing that so many didn’t get the satire, and that there were people who thought it was a really cool military SF movie (completely missing the satire), or who found it pandering to facism. Some people think Verhoeven laid on the satire too thick, but it was obviously not thick enough. Anyone unfamiliar with his style (especially “Robocop”) might be excused, but still… To those who bemoan the brainless strategy and tactics in the movie, well, it is one of the major plot points. The future militaristic government doesn’t care about individuals; there are enough volunteers clamoring for citizenship, and the government will only reward survivors.

    What is scary is that it can be viewed as a comment on post-9/11 USA – made four years before the event. The jingoism and gung-ho attitude are down pat, and the satire becomes darkly humourous. One feature of the movie that isn’t well known is that the young actors didn’t know it was a satire (I guess the news items and editing weren’t evident in the script), and that their attitude and looks were calculated to add to the satire. Anyway. it is one of my favourite movies, and for those who cannot stomach it, I can recommend Verhoeven’s WW2 movies “Black Book” and “Soldier of Orange” (the latter with a young Rutger Hauer).

    • Thanks for your comment. Especially the second half may explain why I found it obnoxious. the actors really acted as if the were in some sort of a commercial.
      I’m not sure wehter I think it should have been more satirical. I didn’t know it was a satire but started to think it is while wathcing it but still, I did reall not work for me.
      On the other hand, I had a feeling I missed something that’s why I asked and thatnks to the comments I might give it another try some day.
      As a 9/11 commentary it seems eerie, indeed. I’m going to watch Soldier of Orange soon. I always liked Rutger Hauer.

  9. […] I watch Paul Verhoeven’s Soldier of Orange – Soldaat van Oranje in a comment on my Starship Troopers post. I’m certainly glad he did. It’s like a companion movie to one of Verhoeven’s […]

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