Case Number 00028

STARSHIP TROOPERS

Sony // 1997 // 130 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // June 7th, 1999

The Charge

The only good bug is a dead bug.

Opening Statement

Paul Verhoeven's "bug hunt" crawls onto DVD in a big way.

The Evidence

At first sight of the Starship Troopers preview I was thoroughly excited. Probably one of the best trailers created in a while, the screen fills with a horde of alien bugs approaching a base and the battle against humans that ensues. The film looked great and I couldn't wait to see some bug squashing. Unfortunately, Starship Troopers was pushed back from its planned summer release into the fall, and I became impatient; so impatient that I went out and read Robert Heinlein's novel, "Starship Troopers." The novel was outstanding; one of the best anti-war novels I have ever read. However, the more I learned about Paul Verhoeven's take on Heinlein's novel, the less I became interested in the film.

In the book, the "bugs" play a minor role towards the end of the story; in Verhoeven's film, the bugs are the story. I was so upset with Verhoeven, then fresh off of his hit film Showgirls, that I decided not to see the film. It wasn't until the following May that I decided to watch Starship Troopers on pay-per-view in a Washington D.C. hotel room. The film, albeit long and nothing like Heinlein's novel, was entertaining and a marvel to look at, so I forgave Verhoeven for butchering the novel. Last fall I picked up Starship Troopers on DVD because of the rave reviews it received from just about every DVD reviewer.

Anyway, Starship Troopers is the futuristic story of Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) who joins up with the Mobile Infantry in the hopes of remaining close to his high school sweetheart, Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), who has joined the Starship Fleet, in the hope of becoming a pilot. The movie steers its way through Rico's basic training and romantic trials with his long distance relationship with Carmen. Eventually, an asteroid, sent from the "bug" home planet, destroys Rico's hometown of Buenos Aires. Humans, who have had several prior incidents with the bugs, shortly declare war on the bugs and send Rico hurtling across the galaxy to do a little insect squashing. Unlike Heinlein's novel, Starship Troopers plays more like a 90210-In-Space with big, slimy, scary bugs than a harsh anti-war epic. Entertaining, yes; but definitely not what Heinlein would have liked to see made out of his book.

The disc is nice, but since its release there have been plenty of higher quality DVDs. The picture is solid with good color saturation and, especially later on in the disc, a nice control of black levels. For a film with numerous special effects, which are done extremely well, a good video transfer is essential.

To accompany the nicely done video is an equally well done Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Unfortunately, the track does not use surround effects as much as they could have, when these effects come into play (I.E. a ship flying over head) they are heard extremely well!

Starship Troopers really shines in the extra features category. The reason why this disc is one of DVD's all-time best sellers is for its extra feature content; a great example of what the DVD format has to offer. The disc contains a commentary from director Paul Verhoeven, deleted scenes, a "documentary" (more like a featurette) on the making of the film, animatics showing the evolution and creation of certain special effects sequences, screen tests of the actors starring in the film, and even a theatrical trailer. Most of this content really gives the viewer and insight into the making of the film and, even though the film isn't outstanding, makes the film more appealing.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Especially in comparison to some of the newest DVD releases, Starship Troopers has a less than perfect audio and video transfer, but good enough to make the film a more enjoyable experience on DVD.

Closing Statement

Starship Troopers doesn't have the best video transfer, the best audio track, the most features, and certainly isn't a great film; however the DVD is a well rounded package that offers you the most for your money.

The Verdict

Acquitted on all counts, but Paul Verhoeven is sentenced to 15 years hard labor for turning Heinlein's novel into a big bang bug hunt.

Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 100
Acting: 75
Story: 70
Average: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Additional Scenes
* Filmmaker's Commentary
* Behind-the-Scenes Footage
* Documentary
* Screen Tests
* Theatrical Trailer

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0120201/combined