Sony // 2003 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 28th, 2004
They're coming back to wipe us out!
Wait, let me get this straight. I just want to be clear on something before I proceed this review: we waited around seven years for a sequel to Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers and this is what we got?
(Patrick holds his head in his hands and sobs silently as the room grows dim.)
Get ready to head back into battle as one of the Federation's best infantry squads goes back in to eradicate the alien menace once and for all. The battle rages on until a small band of soldiers and their commanding officer become trapped inside of a small outpost with little chance of survival. Well out of reach of any reinforcements and dangerously low on supplies and ammo, the ragtag group of officers (and one prisoner wanted for murder) must stand their ground against a horde of bugs with only one thing on their mind: ripping the team to shreds! Things go from bad to worse when it's discovered that while the alien threat outside the perimeter walls is deadly, a new threat infesting their group could be disastrous for not only the squad, but also the entire human race!
A case could be made that sequels, by definition, should almost always be grander in scale than their predecessor. You got three explosions, a few decapitations, and some aliens in the first movie? Then let's see twelve explosions, an entire person being torn apart, and the whole freakin' alien mothership next time around! If that sounds great to you, then you're going to just loathe Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, an abysmal follow-up to the 1997 cult classic Starship Troopers.
Starship Troopers 2 is everything a sequel shouldn't be -- flat, uninspired, and just plain boring. In the original Starship Troopers -- one of the best guilty pleasures in all of cinema history -- there were great effects, a few memorable characters, and truly awe-inspiring action sequences. In the sequel there's horribly muddy looking effects, the most interchangeable actors this side of a WB show, and dialogue so snooze worthy it makes a 7th grade filmstrip on tectonic plates and fault lines look like the prelude to Armageddon.
I'd love to comment on all the spectacular actors featured in Starship Troopers 2...if there were any. Instead, we get a lot of buff guys and a group of rather masculine looking females chomping on cigars. At one point a character removes her brassiere and stands naked in front of the camera and...well, I just didn't care. It takes a mighty bad movie to make me not care that there's a naked woman standing with her ta-tas exposed on my television screen.
Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was directed by Phil Tippett, the Oscar-winning special effects wizard behind such genre classics as Jurassic Park and the original Starship Troopers. With this one single film, he proves that special effects skills do not translate into special directing skills. Then again, writer Edward Neumeier (who, shockingly, penned the original film as well as Robocop) gives Tippett little in the way of creativity -- Starship Troopers 2, for all intents and purposes, is really just a slasher movie in space. The characters are stuck in one place (a giant intergalactic silo) and must fend off the beasts while being picked off one by one. To make matters worse, the whole thing takes place inside of what appears to be a glorified grain silo; I counted about two shots total that took place in space. That's a sad comment considering the film's title has the word "starship" in the title.
Listen, I'm always game for a sequel that just rehashes the original film. Why do you think I own all ten Friday the 13th films? However, if you're going to just redo the original film, at least make it bigger (if not better) than what we've already seen. Starship Troopers 2 is a lame-ass made-for-cable dud that isn't worth even hardcore fans' time.
Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was less than impressed with this transfer. There are a lot of shots in this film that look murky and surprisingly grainy. In fact, in some of the opening sequences a few scenes rivaled that of VHS. Many shots seem overly dark and muddy, though the colors and black levels are generally pretty good. I wasn't happy with Tippett's shaky camera work on this film, and the lackluster transfer does little to help the overall presentation.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS in English, as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround in French. Both the Dolby 5.1 track and the DTS mix are very nice. The good news is there are a lot of surround sounds in this film. The front and rear speakers are used generously while the dialogue, music, and effects are all easily heard without any distortion. Either sound mix will work well with any home theater system. Also included on this disc are English and French subtitles.
Starship Troopers 2 is billed as a "special edition," which is good news for fans of the film, all negative five of them. Starting off the disc is a commentary track by director Phil Tippett, writer Edward Neumeier, and producer John Davison. This is your fairly standard commentary with info on the production, the cast, and the story. Next up are two featurettes: "From Green Screen to Silver Screen" and "Inside the Federation." "Inside the Federation" is a half-hour feature that includes interviews with Tippett and his cast and crew, each discussing why they were drawn the project, how much fun it was to shoot, et cetera. The most interesting thing about this feature is when effects master Ray Harryhausen (Clash of the Titans) showed up on the set right after getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "From Green Screen to Silver Screen" is an effects feature that sports visual effects supervisor Eric Leven going over how various effects were achieved while watching the scenes in various stages of development.
Finally, there is a rather slim photo gallery of behind-the-scenes footage as well as a trailer for the film and bonus trailers for other Columbia titles.
If you're looking for a suitable follow up to Starship Troopers, you aren't going to find in it this mess of a movie. While the audio is decent, the video presentation is only mediocre, and the extra features, while plentiful, leave little to be desired since the film is so cruddy. It's all the more disappointing considering the fact that the original is such a fun film and this sequel is such a dud.
Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation should be put out of its misery with a large can of digital Raid.
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary Track by Director Phil Tippett, Writer Edward Neumeier, and Producer John Davison
* "From Green Screen to Silver Screen" Featurette
* "Inside the Federation" Featurette
* Photo Gallery
* Bonus Trailers