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IN SHORT: A Rock 'em Sock 'em Bug blastin' blockbuster.
OK kidlets, you've been chomping at the bit for months for Starship Troopers, and what director Paul Verhoeven has delivered is a World War II flick with gigantic alien arachnids substituting for Nazis. There is running commentary throughout the flick by a series of newsreel type reports, and the level of gore and graphic violence are at their highest possible markings. That's a good thing, though it may bother parental units and old fogeys. Cranky falls into that latter category, but I can tell you honestly that Starship Troopers sliced twenty years off my clock.
Starship Troopers is filled with the most awesome special effects I've seen in years and it moves at breakneck pace. The story is remarkably faithful to the novel (with one exception, which I won't give away) which is an astounding feat since Robert Heinlein wrote a political treatise and screenwriter Ed Neumeier (who worked with Verhoeven on RoboCop) has turned out a balls to the wall battle flick.
The story begins in Buenos Aires, sometime in the future. A fascist government is in charge of the planet, meaning the average Joe and Jane has no right to vote unless they've served in the Armed Forces of the world Federation. Out in space, there have been running skirmishes with a race of Bugs who have been bombarding the planet with asteroids. A planet-wide propaganda infoNet urges youngsters to sign up for Federal Service, so that the Bug menace can be eradicated.
Starship Troopers tracks the journey of Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) and his friends Carmen (Denise Richards), Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) and Dizzy (Dina Meyer) in service. Johnny's parents don't want him signing up, but where girlfriend Carmen goes, so goes Johnny. The poor guy is dealt the worst hand of all. He's assigned to the Mobile Infantry, which would be cannon fodder to you and me. Not only does Johnny have to deal with the brutality of boot camp, he's stuck between two women -- Diz has transferred into the M.I. to be near him -- and is fighting off a Fleet officer (Patrick Muldoon) who has eyes for "his" girl. We should all have such problems.
A full scale War erupts between us and the Bugs. Troopers kicks into overdrive and love becomes secondary to the splattering of Bug brains.
But you already knew that.
The battle sequences are bloody and brutal and the gore and body parts fly all over the bigscreen. It reaches the point where the violence (and Starship Troopers is violent to the extreme) becomes more like a cartoon than anything else. The basically unknown cast live, love, kill and die with verve, panache and a couple thousand rounds of heavy duty machine gun ammo. Maximo Cool.
In the two shows Cranky saw, the parents cringed and the kids cheered and 1200 Gen X'ers were screaming "Rico! Rico! Rico!" by the time all was said and done. Yes indeedy, Cranky saw Starship Troopers twice, and you know what that means.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Starship Troopers, he would have paid . . .
Maximum rating for maximum thrill.
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