We’ve come a long way since Robert Heinlein’s original novel ‘Starship Troopers’. The first movie in 1987 was pretty good but the sequels have never really reached the same level. This is the fourth offering to bear this name but does it live up to its predecessors? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Despite that, this animated version does have plenty of good points and I’m sure it will prove to be quite a popular DVD purchase.
First of all, the quality of this computer animated Science Fiction directed by Shinji Aramaki doesn’t leave much room for criticism. It’s very well done, as you would expect from the Japanese director who has been around for some years and has plenty of experience in this area. There is no problem in this department but the script could have been a lot better. It’s rather two-dimensional and while entertaining, there is nothing challenging in this ‘shoot them down’ movie. If we’ve seen one charging bug shot to pieces with splattering blood oozing green, then we have seen them all. There are hundreds if not thousands to be experienced, so much so that it eventually becomes tiresome!
The plot is rather simple. Bugs have infested a space station and the team go in to rescue the remaining humans. They are then assigned to rendezvous with the starship John A Warden, where intelligence officer Carl Jenkins awaits them but they find that the place is infested with bugs and everyone seems to be dead. They begin a fight for their lives, which turns out to be a fight for humanity when they discover that the bug controlled ship is heading for Earth. Saying much more than spoil the movie but it does get quite tense in the furious action.
Insecticide notwithstanding, I always seem to be puzzled by the fact that the troopers use bullets to fight the bugs. The technology of the weapons they use isn’t much advanced from early 21st century armaments and using thousands of high velocity bullets in the confines of the starship, with a vacuum outside, is probably not a good idea. You would think that they could have developed something more potent which was safer to use inside a starship? The troopers also resemble American Marines. Nothing wrong with that but I imagine that a future with Earth at threat from an alien invasion would use all nationalities and cultures within their ranks.
While the action is gripping and exciting, there are no real twists and turns to the plot and no exploration of characters beyond what is presented in a two-dimensional animation. Of course, maybe that’s not necessary in a movie which almost resembles a videogame where aliens are encountered within the confines of a dark threatening environment. In this respect, it’s very successful. It’s also the case that the numbers of aliens seem to be inexhaustible. Where are they all coming from? Furthermore, although lots of troopers are killed, there are always a few left to do battle.
The ending culminates in a massive fight for the survival of humanity. The bugs have probably decided to finish off humans once and for all. Well, humans are quite good at extinguishing other species so it’s a mystery why they simply don’t blow up the bugs’ home planet? That of course would spoil the fun.
The DVD contains lots of interesting extras, including a commentary, items on making the movie and other bits and pieces about ‘Starship Troopers’. Plenty for the fans to get their teeth into! Watching an animated feature takes a little while for you to get used to the fact that the characters are not real, however, the graphics are so well done that the illusion takes place and takes hold within a few minutes, sufficiently so for the viewer to become comfortable with what is being presented. Making ‘Starship Trooper’ movies to compare with the first production costs lots and lots of money. This is a cheaper alternative but if that’s what it takes to continue the story for the thousands of followers out there, then so be it.
Considering the limitations of plot and characterisation, it’s still a good movie and still one to recommend. Now that this has appeared on the market, maybe if it is successful there will be follow-ups and possibly a conclusion to the story, hopefully a conclusion where humans win the battle.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment B007V34GCW. 1 DVD 85 minute film. Price: £11.99 (UK))
cast: Neil Patrick Harris and Casper Van Dien
check out website: www.sonypictures.com