Starship Troopers: A Retrospective


"Hey, at least they're not stink bugs, am I right?"


They’ve been playing this flick on Showtime like crazy lately, allowing me to revisit what is considered (by the twelve-year-old in my head) to be a classic.  It’s also got me thinking about what happens when you revisit something that you loved in your youth.  For me, the result tends to fall into two camps: it is still enjoyable, usually for different reasons; or it is utterly clownsh*t  retarded.  For example, I still occasionally play with Lego’s, and will do so until my arthritic old hands are unable to build that totally sweet spaceship (with TEN GUNS! F*ck yeah!).  On the other hand…Power Rangers? Really, seven year-old me? What are you, like, stupid? Aaanyway, I’m sure most adults have encountered these moments, usually lured back by the siren song of nostalgia.

Starship Troopers falls squarely into that first category.  It came out in ’97 and features, in no particular order: giant bugs, spaceships, futuristic guns, alien worlds, and boobs.  For the love of god, what else would a twelve-year-old kid want? Watching it now, it is still absurdly entertaining, but for entirely different reasons.

Except for the Boobs. Boobs are always relevant.

To recap the plot, for those deprived  souls who have not seen it, Starship Troopers takes place during a distant future where Earth has a singular government that is cartoonishly fascist.  For someone to have any democratic say in government doings, to become a “citizen” and not just a civilian,  one must serve in the military. The film’s story centers on four high-school kids who do so.  Right off the bat, this movie shows its age, and…man.  What passed for a theatrical release in 1997 now looks like a generously budgeted Sci-Fi Channel* Original Movie. But, really, I’ve always found this to give movies of this ilk a certain charm.  For example: check out those  Windows 98-level graphics on those CRT displays. Yay, Future!

Another thing that makes the movie interesting for grown-ups? Schadenfreude.  It spends the first 20 minutes introducing a cast of pretty, shallow “teenagers”, all played by actors who look to be pushing 30. Then, just as we begin to grow weary of these douche-bags, it sends most of them to a brutal death. LOL! This is also after they get smacked around a bit by a couple of my favorite character actors (Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown).


BTW, Clancy Brown (right) does the voice of Mr Krabs on Spongebob. This is actually not a joke.


Also…NPH!  Neal Patrick Harris plays one of the main characters, a member of military intelligence. His recently gained status as a comedic icon makes his serious role here that much more amusing.  Anytime he says anything with a straight face, you just can’t help, but….hahahahahaha! Oh, Neil.  You so crazy.

And really, that sums it all up right there. At twelve, this movie was just plain cool when taken at face value. Now, it’s as cheesy as f*ck and still very entertaining. What was awesome then is still awesome now, and really, the “why” is irrelevant.  Um…so irrelevant I just wrote 520 words on the subject.  Nice.

* I know it’s called SyFy now.  Go play Starcraft, nerd.

2 responses to “Starship Troopers: A Retrospective

  1. I agree for the most part with your opinion about re-watching the movie now, but for me the first viewing experience was very different. the only way for you to have any idea is to READ THE BOOK!!! although written in the 40’s, the book is still relevant and provides an accurate portrayal of military life. as an adult going to see the movie when it came out, i knew the movie could in no way live up to the book, but Jesus wept, the movie is a complete 180 from the book. they share little more than a title and some character names. It took me a while to separate the book from the movie in my head and enjoy the movie without comparing it to the book. that said, I am taking nominations for the WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. let me know your pick. and yes boobies are always relevant.

    • I should have put that I DID read the book and that it has very little in common with the movie. I’ve learned long ago to always consider books and their cinematic counterparts as two separate entities. Especially nowadays, with the deluge of book-to-movie adaptations, analyzing the difference becomes a slippery slope upon which there is little purchase. I enjoyed the book as a well written piece of satirical sci-fi (Robert A. Heinlein is just about up there with Asimov and Phil K. Dick). But I took the movie for what is was: a tasty bit of Velveeta. Plus, the movie was directed by Paul Verhoeven, whose best movies are violent, campy sci-fi, with a nice side of unsubtle political satire. See: RoboCop and Total Recall. And as for WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME? I nominate The Happening. The worst 90 Minutes of my life and that includes the 90 minutes following the explosion of my appendix. Okay, thats an exaggeration, but seriously Shyamalan, get your sh*t together.

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