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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Starship Troopers - "From Book to Battle: A Campy Controversy"

Rating: ★★★1/2☆ (3.5/5 stars)

Released 11-07-1997

Watched 09-30-2023

Reviewed 10-02-2023

Available to Buy or Rent

"Would you like to know more?"

Paul Verhoeven's cinematic take on Robert A. Heinlein's novel, "Starship Troopers," is a wild ride that seems to relish its place in the pantheon of campy sci-fi films. Bursting onto the screen with a combination of over-the-top action, satirical undertones, and a heavy dose of '90s aesthetics, the movie has carved out its own niche, separate from its literary predecessor.

One of the film's most notable achievements is its unapologetic embrace of the campy sci-fi genre. From the propaganda-style infomercials to the sometimes melodramatic performances of its cast, "Starship Troopers" feels like a love letter to the extravagances of older sci-fi while simultaneously poking fun at them.

As for the gore, Verhoeven doesn't hold back. The battles against the Arachnids are visceral, intense, and bloody. Each skirmish showcases a blend of practical effects and early CGI, resulting in scenes that, while sometimes a tad unconvincing by today's standards, certainly don't skimp on the shock value.

However, the film isn't just about flashy battles and camp. Much like the book, "Starship Troopers" delves into deeper, more controversial waters. Heinlein's novel stirred debate upon its release, with readers and critics alike questioning whether it endorsed or criticized militarism and authoritarianism. The film, in its own way, leans into this controversy but with a more pronounced satirical edge. Verhoeven's take appears to skewer the jingoism and blind nationalism present in the source material, adding layers of interpretation and sparking discussion about the film's true intent.

While "Starship Troopers" stands out as a memorable piece of '90s cinema, it's not without its shortcomings. Some characters feel underdeveloped, and the narrative occasionally loses its way amidst the spectacle. Additionally, while the campiness is a defining feature, it might not resonate with everyone, especially those seeking a more serious or faithful adaptation of Heinlein's work.

In conclusion, "Starship Troopers" is a unique cinematic experience. It's a film that simultaneously revels in its campy sci-fi roots while also providing food for thought with its satirical take on militarism. Whether you're in for the action, the satire, or just a dose of nostalgia, this film has something to offer.

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