Starship Troopers DVD

623I just watched Starship Troopers on DVD (German Edition, RC2), having missed it like so many other movies in the theatre. Well as it turns out, this is a very good thing as here in Germany, the theatrical version was cut considerably.

Not so this DVD, but from a technical standpoint, that is pretty much all the good things to say about it. There are no extras, the minimalistic menu is on side B – and yes you read that correctly boys and girls, this DVD actually has to be flipped over – it is that ancient.

**Starship Troopers** follows the career of Jonny Rico, who enlists in the Terran Mobile Infantry to gain his citizenship – or, in the movie version, to impress his girlfriend, Carmen, and witnesses key events in the ongoing conflict between the Federation, and the arachnid race of aliens known merely as the “bugs”.

As many of you who read the book and watched the movie already know, Starship Troopers the movie has almost nothing in common with the book, if you don’t count the basic premise “boy goes to war against insectoid aliens” and the re-use of various names from the book. There are no powered armor, and the ideologic discourses that are so vital to the book are almost entirely absent from the movie. To make up for it, we get gratitious violence against and commited by digitally created aliens. Blood, gore, and many, many dead.

It is very difficult for me to rank this movie. I loved the book, it is one of my favorites, ever. Usually, I would consider what Paul Verhoeven did with the classic novel to be, basically, rape of a piece of art. If you do the adaption of a novel to the silver screen, god damn it, adapt the novel and do not throw it out the window, burn it and splash acid on it until it’s rendered almost beyond recognition. This movie **is not Starship Troopers**.

Yet, while the movie gets a score of maybe three points out of a hundred as a movie adaption of Starship Troopers, it’s still an entertaining movie. The action is good, the bugs convince, and the effects are beautifully rendered – never have I seen such a glorious breakup of a starship on-screen. The characters are wonderfully protrayed, and I really bought the character growth of Rico from a scared teenager to a battle-hardened veteran. But that’s only the start. I loved the movie as a portrayal of war propaganda. Throughout the movie, we get “Federation network” broadcasts about all kinds of “news items” related to the Bug war. It’s reminiscent of world war 2 propaganda clips about “our fighting boys”. The costumes and sets, everything is wonderfully designed to just hint at the Third Reich, without going overboard. By the end of the movie, I am left with the conviction that the bug war is nothing more than a ploy by the Federation Government to keep the population occupied. If this was not the intent of the director, then he needs to find a new job (for portraying a movie so poorly that even I did not get it).

Thus, instead of “Starship Troopers The Movie” we get a satire / warning about repressive societies and propaganda. This is a good thing in my book – too much of it still happens in the real world, now even more than when the movie was originally shot – I kept thinking how wonderful the abstract threat of the “bugs” compares to the abstract threat of “terrorists” used by the Bush administration and the governments around the world to implement new, more restrictive laws, raise the defense budget, and in general keep their citizens in line.

So, this movie gets one thumb up for being a good movie, and two thumbs down for being a really horrible Starship Troopers. Verhoeven should really have not used this famous name and let the movie stand on its own. The DVD gets a thumb down for being very basic – if you can find this DVD at a really low price, get it, otherwise stay clear or just borrow it like I did. Maybe there is an updated version by now with some extras, that would endear the DVD more to me.

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