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Starship Troopers
File:Starship Troopers - movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Produced by Jon Davison
Alan Marshall
Screenplay by Edward Neumeier
Based on Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Starring Casper Van Dien
Denise Richards
Dina Meyer
Jake Busey
Neil Patrick Harris
Clancy Brown
Michael Ironside
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography Jost Vacano
Edited by Mark Goldblatt
Caroline Ross
Production
company
Distributed by USA/Canada
TriStar Pictures
International
Touchstone Pictures
Release dates
  • November 7, 1997 (1997-11-07)
Running time
129 minutes
Country Template:Film US
Language English
Budget $105 million
Box office $121,214,377

Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction film, written by Edward Neumeier (screenplay), directed by Paul Verhoeven, loosely adapted from Starship Troopers, a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It was the first of three films released in the Starship Troopers franchise. The film had a budget estimated around $105 million and grossed over $121 million worldwide.

The story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as "the Bugs".

Starship Troopers was nominated for an Academy Award (visual effects) in 1998. The film has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes, which some critics claim promote militarism.[1]

Plot

In the distant future, humans are at tense relations with an alien race named the Arachnids, or "Bugs", whose homeworld is the planet Klendathu, along with many colonies in its system. John D. "Johnny" Rico (Casper Van Dien), his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), and best friend Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) graduate from high school in Buenos Aires; Carmen and Carl enlist in the military to become citizens, citizenship being an "earned" honor in this future society versus a right by birth. Johnny, wanting to follow Carmen, goes against his parents' demands and enlists himself. He finds that his grades are too low to join Carmen in Flight School and eventual status as a commissioned officer in the Fleet, and is assigned to the Mobile Infantry while Carl joins Military Intelligence.

At Mobile Infantry training, Johnny and his troop, including an infatuated former classmate "Dizzy" Flores (Dina Meyer) and Ace (Jake Busey) are drilled under the brutal Career Sergeant Zim (Clancy Brown). Johnny shows aptitude in leadership and is promoted to squad leader. As he trains, he learns that Carmen is happy with her life in the fleet and working alongside his former high-school rival, Zander (Patrick Muldoon), and that she will likely remain in the Fleet for her career, dashing Johnny's hopes of a future romance with her. After a training incident that kills one of Johnny's squad members, he is demoted and publicly flogged. He decides to leave the Infantry, and calls his parents in Buenos Aires to tell them of a decision. The call is interrupted when an asteroid, launched by the Arachnids and undetected by Earth, wipes out millions in the city. Johnny remains with the Infantry as they are shipped out to the Klendathu sector.

The first major strike against the Bugs is a complete failure, wiping out numerous Infantry and with heavy casualties in the Fleet due to underestimates of the Bugs' warfare capabilities. Johnny's troop is nearly wiped out and Johnny himself heavily injured and mistakenly labeled "Killed in action", causing Carmen to be believe him dead. Johnny, Ace, and Dizzy are reassigned to the Roughnecks, led by Johnny's old high school teacher, Lieutenant Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside). The Roughnecks are sent on several missions to determine the Bugs' tactics, and Johnny is quickly promoted to Corporal. That night, during rest and relaxation before the next day's mission, Johnny and Dizzy have sex. On the next mission, they are sent to an apparently abandoned human colony on a Bug planet, instead to discover it was a trap laid by the Bugs. Rasczak is killed as the Roughnecks hold out in the colony waiting for Fleet rescue. When the rescue ship, piloted by Carmen and Zander, arrives, Dizzy is impaled at the last moment by a Bug, and though they board her on the ship, she dies in mid-transport. Back on the Fleet ships, Johnny, now promoted to the leader of the Roughnecks, and Carmen reconnect at Dizzy's funeral along with Carl, now a high-ranking Intelligence official. Carl apologizes for Dizzy's death, as Intelligence knew that the Roughnecks would likely encounter the Bugs, but they are now assured of the existence of a "brain bug" that is controlling the Arachnids, and assigns Johnny's next mission to help lure one out.

While Johnny, Ace, and the other Roughnecks start to search the planet, the Fleet encounters more fire from the Bugs, and Carmen's ship is struck. She and Zander make it out on an escape pod that crashes into the Bug tunnel system near Johnny's location. Johnny disobeys his orders and with Ace and Sugar Watkins (Seth Gilliam) go to try to rescue Carmen while the rest of the troop continues its search. The three find Carmen and Zander at the mercy of a brain bug and other Arachnids. Zander is able to pass Carmen his knife before he is attacked by the brain bug that drains out his brain and kills him. Carmen uses the knife to wound the brain bug and forcing it to retreat, giving Johnny, Ace and Sugar to cover her escape. Sugar is disabled by a Bug and tells the others to escape while he prepares a small nuclear bomb to wipe out the Bugs. The three escape in time, and regroup with the rest of the Roughnecks, surprised to discover that Zim, in another squad, was able to capture the brain bug. Carl congratulates Johnny for his work and states that with the brain bug, they will be able understand the Arachnids better and turn the tide of war. The movie ends on a series of propaganda videos featuring Johnny, Ace and Carmen as heroes of the war.

Cast

Development

Production

HellsHalfAcre

Badlands of Hell's Half Acre, Natrona County, Wyoming, where parts of Starship Troopers were filmed.

The "bug planet" scenes were filmed in the badlands of Hell's Half Acre in Natrona County, Wyoming.[2]

Several cameos in the film include producer Jon Davison as the angry Buenos Aires resident who says to the FedNet camera, "The only good Bug is a dead Bug!", and screenwriter Ed Neumeier as the quickly captured, convicted, and condemned murderer in another FedNet clip. Former U.S. Marine Dale Dye, whose company Warriors, Inc. provided technical military advice on the film, appeared as a high-ranking officer following the capture of the Brain Bug ("What's it thinking, Colonel?"). Director Paul Verhoeven, producer Jon Davison, writer Edward Neumeier, creature effects designers Phil Tippett and Craig Hayes, and composer Basil Poledouris were all involved with the original RoboCop movie. Actor Michael Ironside was also considered for the role of Murphy/RoboCop. Ironside did appear in Verhoeven's Total Recall. The cast agreed to do the co-ed shower scene only if the director agreed to direct the scene naked. Verhoeven directed the scene with no clothes on.[2]

The movie received much criticism in that many of the characters are described as just graduating from high school, despite the fact that the actors who played them were in their late twenties or early thirties at the time the movie was filmed. In the commentary track of the DVD release of the film, Verhoeven remarks that he had hoped to cast actors whose age more closely matched that of the characters—and indeed of real-world soldiers—but that the producers felt such actors would look too young. The teacher and leader of the "Roughnecks" in the novel are combined into one role played by Michael Ironside.[2]

Test audience reactions led to several minor changes before the film was released. Originally it was clear that Carmen was torn between Rico and Lt. Zander. Test audiences, regardless of gender, strongly felt that a woman could not love two men at once so scenes which portrayed this were cut. These audiences also felt it was immoral for Carmen to choose a career ahead of being loyal to Rico to the extent that many commented that for choosing the career Carmen should have died instead of Dizzy. While admitting it may have been a bad commercial decision not to change the film to accommodate this, the directors did cut a scene from after Zander's death where Carmen and Rico kiss, which the audience believed made the previous betrayal even more immoral.[2]

Like Verhoeven's films before this, Starship Troopers was threatened with an NC-17 rating. Bits cut included several shots of mutilated bodies and a decapitation.

Comparison with the novel

Template:Ref improve section There are many differences between the original book and film. A report in an American Cinematographer article states that the Heinlein novel was optioned well into the pre-production period of the film, which had a working title of Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine; most of the writing team reportedly were unaware of the novel at the time. According to the DVD commentary, Paul Verhoeven never finished reading the novel, claiming he read through the first few chapters and became both "bored and depressed."[3]

Release

Reception

Starship Troopers polarized audiences and critics alike. While much of this was the result of Verhoeven's departure from Heinlein's novel, some arguments did resemble the original issues that polarized readers of the novel 40 years before. A prominent theme of the film is the human practice of violence without reflection or empathy, which resembles the senseless aggression of the "Bugs". This is reflected in a mixed critical response.[4] Starship Troopers was nominated for a number of awards in 1998, including the Academy Award for Visual Effects; the film won Saturn Awards for Best Costumes and Best Special Effects at the 1998 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA Awards.[5]

The film included visual allusions to propaganda films such as Why We Fight, Triumph of the Will and wartime newsreels. The symbols, and certain clothing styles, of the Federation are modeled on those of the Nazis (e.g., windbreaker, suits, cap, etc.; moreover, the military intelligence officers' uniforms bear a striking similarity to those of the Waffen SS). The satire was embedded in action sequences with special effects.[6][7]

In the DVD audio commentary for the film, Paul Verhoeven states the movie's message: "War makes fascists of us all." He evokes Nazi Germany - particularly through its use of fashion, iconography and propaganda - which he sees as a natural evolution of the post-World War 2 United States. "I've heard this film nicknamed All Quiet On the Final Frontier," he says, "which is actually not far from the truth." Ed Neumeier (who had previously worked with Verhoeven on RoboCop) broadly concurs, although he sees a satire on human history, rather than solely the United States. Since the filmmakers did not make these statements at the time of the film's release, viewers have interpreted it variously: as a satire, as a celebration of fascism or as a simple action film.[2]

Sequels

Template:Ref improve section Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was direct-to-video in 2004. In May 2006, MovieHole.net reported that Ed Neumeier returned to write the script for a second sequel, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, and also stated that original cast members would be returning.[8] This movie was released directly to DVD in August 2008. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder was considered an improvement over the second film and the return of Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico was well received by fans. However, it was also criticized for its poor low-budget special effects, confusing plot, and wooden acting.

Merchandise

In 1997, Avalon Hill released Starship Troopers: Prepare For Battle!, a boardgame based on the film version rather than Heinlein's book. Its gameplay focused on limited skirmishes rather than larger battles. The "Skinnies" do not appear, nor is there a political element.[9] Avalon Hill released a game called Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers in 1976.[10] The 2000 real-time tactics video game titled Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy was released. This game also incorporated the powered suits in Heinlein's novel into the Verhoeven version of the Mobile Infantry. It was developed by Australian software company Blue Tongue Entertainment. A first-person shooter game also titled Starship Troopers was released November 15, 2005. This version was developed by Strangelite Studios and published by Empire Interactive. Set five years after the events of the movie, the game also featured Casper van Dien voicing the in-game version of Johnny Rico. Sega Pinball released a pinball machine based on this movie.[11]

The movie was released simultaneously with a graphic novelization, which retold events from the movie. There were also additional series that were released based in the Verhoeven universe, though not directly related to the movie. Further series were published by Dark Horse Comics and Markosia. The film was followed by the CGI animated television series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, which is loosely set inside the events of the movie just after Rico and Diz join the Roughnecks but before Rico gets promoted (though the events and tone of the show differ from those of the film).

References

  1. "Scott Rosenberg's critic of the movie from Salon.com, describing a fascist "G.I. Joe" novel". http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/1997/11/07starship.html. Retrieved 2006-04-18.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Template:Cite video
  3. Robley, Les Paul (November 1997). "Interstellar Exterminators. Ornery insects threaten the galaxy in Starship Troopers". American Cinematographer (California, United States of America: American Society of Cinematographers) 78 (11): 56–66.
  4. "Starship Troopers (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/starship_troopers/. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  5. "Awards for Starship Troopers". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120201/awards. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
  6. Tobias, Scott (2005-10-19). "Who Will Love The Brown Bunny? A Decade Of Underrated Movies (1997 Starship Troooper)". A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/41714. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
  7. "Commentary Tracks Of The Blessed (1997 Starship Troooper)". A.V. Club. 2005-03-25. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/24776. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
  8. Morris, Clint. "Sony Debugs Starship Troopers". MovieHole.net. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20070218130702/http://www.moviehole.net/news/20060531_sony_debugs_starship_troopers.html. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  9. "Starship Troopers: Prepare For Battle!". http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/260. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  10. "Starship Troopers (1976)". Board Game Geek. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/260. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
  11. "Starship Troopers". Internet Pinball Machine Database. http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=4341. Retrieved 2007-08-03.

External links

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