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Starship Troopers 2

Starship Troopers 2 on DVD

By Jim Bray

I was surprised to hear about this sequel, and really looking forward to reviewing it. The novel on which the original was based is one of my all time favorites; it was the great Robert A. Heinlein at his best, full of incredible science and science fiction as well as fascinating characters and typical Heinlein social and political commentary.

Paul Verhoeven’s movie only used about ten per cent of the book, if that, but what they used they got mostly right. Being Hollywood leftists they completely misunderstood the politics, and a lot of my favorite things about the book – such as the powered suits wielded by the Mobile Infantry – weren’t included, but on the whole it was a good movie even if it wasn’t great Heinlein.

The existence of a sequel gave me hope that they’d go back to the book and do some of the things they didn’t (or couldn’t) do in the original – such as the aforementioned suits. And since this sequel went straight to video (which can be – but isn’t necessarily – an ominous sign) I knew nothing about it and so could go in with only my hopes and have no preconceptions about what to expect.

Add to the mix a first time director who’s been advancing the state of the special effects art since the 1970’s (Phil Tippett, whose fame came from his work with George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic).

Suffice it to say my hopes were dashed. Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is a really bad movie. It’s cheap, it’s low budget, it’s schlock, it’s politically correct liberalism in the extreme – in short there’s nothing worth seeing here at all. Move along.

If you want to see this storyline done right, watch John Carpenter’s The Thing. You won’t be sorry.

This edition of Troopers sees a MI unit forced by a nearly unseen horde of bugs (it’s cheaper to make if you don’t have to show ‘em much) into an outpost on a planet either owned or controlled by the arachnids. They reach the outpost in the first few minutes and from there on you’re either indoors (read “on a soundstage”) or just outside (read “on a soundstage”) the compound and the hordes of bugs are kept at bay through the use of a sci-fi fence that holds them off just long enough for whatever story there is to play out, at which time they overrun the place just in time for the MI to be rescued.

The Hero of the Federation in this case is a man they discover inside the compound – a holdover from the previous MI unit that had been there. This guy, who is the best soldier of the bunch, is in the brig for having killed one of his officers. But since the rest of the Infantrypeople are either incompetent, insubordinate, foolish, or just busy having sex with each other, he’s brought back into action – forgiven temporarily – to help hold the compound until they can be rescued in the nick of time.

What we end up with is a limousine liberal’s view of the military. Instead of highly trained and competent professionals such as we can witness every day in the War on Terror (or could if the media weren’t so busy trying to bring down the Bush administration and had time to actually show us both sides of the issue) we get a bunch of immature, whining prima donnas so unprofessional it isn’t difficult to see why they let a supposed mutineer become their de facto leader.

Add some occasional gratuitous nudity (okay, that was my favorite part!), some repellent and unnecessary graphic grossout makeup effects, some decent CG animation, and an overall disrespect for the source material and you have a cheap and cheesy mishmash that was one of the longest 90 minutes I’ve ever spent in a home theater.

Avoid this like the plague.

The DVD’s fine, though by this time I’d hope you don’t care. It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture is sharp and clean. Alas, it’s also very dark for the lion’s share of the so-called plot, so you can’t see anything very well anyway.

Audio is dts and/or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and it’s fine. There’s great bass and good use of the surrounds, but it doesn’t matter.

You also get extras. I should have watched them first, because by the time the final credits started rolling I couldn’t get this disc out of the DVD player quickly enough lest it damage it for other, better movies.

First up is a commentary by the director, writer and producer (I’d hope it was a 92 minute apology, but as mentioned I didn’t stick around to find out), followed by a featurette “From Green Screens to Silver Screen” on the making of this dog’s breakfast. There’s also an “Inside the Federation” featurette the title alone of which frightened me off because I figured it would have little to do with what Heinlein's Federation was supposed to represent.

You also get a bunch of trailers, a photo gallery and a DVD ROM link to a demo of a Troopers PC game.

As the robot in Lost in Space (TV) said: “Warning, warning! Danger Will Robinson.” Avoid this like the plague and rent the original. While it was by no means perfect, it was still a ripping yarn well told and could be a bit of an introduction to the grand visions of the Dean of Science Fiction, Robert A. Heinlein.

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
92 excruciating minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, dts
Starring Richard Burgi, Lawrence Monoson, Colleen Porch
Produced by Jon Davison
Written by Ed Neumeir, directed by Phil Tippett


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