Starship Troopers (1997)
You could say that Starship Troopers (1997) is the ultimate sci-fi spoof. That would be underestimating what is really going on in this cheeky satire that as much as the special effects have aged the political ideas are still as razor-sharp as the bugs legs that kill those troops on the ground. I’m still trying to work out exactly what was going on in this quasi facist-American propaganda of the future. It only takes a few choice words and you can be hooked into this promotional video that starts half-way through in the middle of a far-off war zone of a bug infested planet that threatens the very existence of human kind. Reminding me of how the cold war was used to condition and scare either side involved.
From my perspective it was more a war of words and threats. Of course people died, the subject in film leaves me alienated really, as there is nothing really that tangible beyond the ideas. Here Paul Verhoeven has produced a piece of satire that comes that attempts to scare and thrill you at the same time. The potential to indoctrinate with a 90’s spin on Nazi propaganda that stirred and lead a nation in a away that we have thankfully not seen since. The role of the media is very important in delivering this faux-message of being citizen or a civilian – “Service guarantees citizenship” as we are told is the way to finding respect and a proper way in life on earth in this reality. To be a civilian is to lead a protected life of privilege, knowing you are below the citizen who protect you. Both statuses lead you to believe you are equal until you start to look at this two tier class system that allows a future utopian Earth with a Verhoeven take on Star Trek‘s Federation that unites the planet and others under idea of peace. Also with a strong military arm that protects, not so much explore here in Verhoeven universe.
The threat of the bugs in a not so far of galaxy today even mirrors today’s threat of Islamic terrorism that we would are currently engaged in a technological war against ideologies, rather than feet on the ground. War-fare has changed, even as it’s predicted back in the nineties. However its the military that are more in charge, not the governments. Military policy trumps all, even those who have gained the status of citizens who are more like the police or army that serve and protect civilians, more like servants who obey without question.
I’ve not even started to even look at the characters in the film who act more as vehicles to express this broken utopian future. The young and privileged with bright futures ahead of themselves, choose to give all that up to serve the federation. All good looking young kids who excel in their chosen fields, its sickening to see them go through their training. With added drama for Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) who is nearly kicked out of boot-camp. Leadership comes at a price that nearly cost him his career, his ego and could be death.
Surrounded by now clichés of supporting characters who don’t take-away from this…modern classic? that even parodies the action genre with goofy soldiers who lighten the film enough for the audience to enjoy on another level away from the heavier ideas that raise the film higher that the average block-buster which this clearly is masquerading as. It’s devilishly clever, with all the guns, guts, gore and violence that is over the top as huge bugs are killed with endless bullets before the fleshy cannon fodder are squished on by the bugs who aren’t to be underestimated. It takes more than laying down a few rounds and a few grenades. Not even a few sprays of bug killer will stop these bugs from pushing you back. They are relentless but so is the military that keeps coming back for more.
I never thought I’d see this film, not really seeing any interest in it beyond being a bit if a cult film. However it’s that subtext that kept me watching. The ridiculous mantra that is spoon-fed in this future that you never know might still happen if we use the media as a weapon of brain-washing. Adding all the best bits of some classic science fiction like televised capital punishments. You’d think in the future we would learn from our past mistakes as a race. The boundaries that made up countries seem to fall away unifying us. Yet at the core we as human still have the urge to conquer when exploration fails and power and politics wins the military takes control. History here has repeated itself.
- Cult-Movie Review: Starship Troopers (1997) (reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.co.uk)