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I spent a good chunk of last Saturday night watching on Netflix Streaming the 1997 sci-fi flick “Starship Troopers“, often rated as a bad “book into movie” and a cheesy sci-fi film.  I have to say, I strongly disagree, at least with the latter.  I found it a rather brilliant film, especially in this post 9/11 world.
Poster for Starship Troopers
First, to deal with the name – Starship Troopers.  Apparently, this movie was being created, and a few weeks in, someone realized there was a book with the same general plotline (the sci-fi watershed novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, most noted for its idea of citizenship stemming from military service and its cool powered battlesuits).  The director, Paul Verhoeven, read a few chapters of the book, got bored, and asked his scriptwriter to summarize the book for him.  From what I’ve read about the book (I haven’t read it, admittedly), the movie and book are common in title, some characters, and the baddies (giant bugs – yuk).  Outside that, there doesn’t seem to be much overlapping, in tone and in message.
The movie begins with an opening VERY similar to the landmark “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl.  Heck, even the Federal Service logo and design are really interesting Nazi eagle ripoffs.  And from the get-go, you’ve got the fascist propaganda going on – What are YOU doing to help the cause?  Are you doing your part?  Even the little blonde hair, blue eyed adolescent is geared up and ready to go (cue laughing by all on camera)!  We then meet Johnny Rico and his classmates, and follow him from high school graduation to boot camp and then through his ‘exploits’ in the Mobile Infantry.
Federal Network image from Starship Troopers
I’ll try not to give the plot away too much, but it develops like a modern, sci-fi “All Quiet on the Western Front”.  You see how war is hell.  But, it does so in a way that might not be so obvious to a lazy viewer, following in the same vein as one of Verhoeven’s other films – RoboCop.  You also get, interspersed in the film’s drama, little “sideclips” that are actually just nationalistic propaganda (biting at the pro-war nationalistic tendencies people get when they’re all fired up).  The extremist Mormons left the protection of the wonderful Federation – and now they’re all dead!  We’ve found new and exciting ways to kill the Bug – would you like to know more?  And don’t forget… the only good bug, is a dead bug!  You too can join in on the action – squish your own bugs in your neighborhood!
The interesting thing is that this movie has an attack by an enemy on a civilian target (Buenos Aires), a call to war immediately, a rush headlong into war that everyone thought would be over as quick as it started, a tougher-than-expected ragtag army, captured and taunted enemies (including the ones living in spider holes), propaganda designed to stir you up and get ready to take on your own neighborhood Bugs (because that’s what we do!), and a premature declaration of victory.  Whether it sounds familiar to you or not, you can read more here (http://www.cracked.com/article_19259_6-mind-blowing-ways-starship-troopers-predicted-future.html), because it makes some astoundingly interesting comparisons.

Hopefully this little blog post stirs you up to go and watch the film.  It’s 2 hours and 10 minutes long.  For the record, aside from the language and violence, there are two objectionable scenes (a co-ed shower scene and a topless sex scene – fun fact, the cast of the film agreed to do the co-ed shower scene only if the director would direct while nude.  He agreed, and it was done).  I think the CGI holds up on its own, the storywriting/plotline are enjoyable enough, and really, the fascist commentary/critique throughout the film really make it worth the watch.

Nazi Doogie Howser, MD wants to know if you would like to know more.

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