The revival of religious worship here, and in the outer colonies, will not be tolerated if it leads to… sedition! Or in any way destabilizes our war effort.
Starship Troopers was one of my favourite films from the 1990s and this view was shared by a lot of professional reviewers. It had everything that you could want in a film, it had action, drama, romance, science fiction and probably the most important part. It was fun. It didn’t take itself too seriously and because of that it was one of the most positive feelings I’ve had watching a film.
This was followed by a less than successful sequel, a film that has been rated as one of the worst sequels ever, so I was a little skeptical about this direct to DVD third film in the series and it ultimately isn’t much better due to the way it puts limitations it puts on itself.
Ultimately this is similar to the “Ginger Snaps” trilogy in the sense that the first is by far the best, a sequel wasn’t needed but it got one anyway and whilst the third did restore some respectability, it stays as a trilogy that didn’t need to be a trilogy.
Johnny Rico (Van Dien) has developed a successful career following the events of the first film and he has risen to the rank of Colonel. He soon receives a visit from the overwhelming popular Sky Marshall Omar Anoke (Stephen Hogan). The base is soon attacked and Rico is blamed for it, sentenced to be executed.
Meanwhile Anoke and several others crash land on a new planet, OM-1 that turns out to be infested with alien bugs. Anoke suddenly becomes obsessed with “Behemecoatyl”, a consciousness that only he can detect, and promises to lead them all to safety.
Just as Rico is hanged for his “crimes”, he falls through the floor and the rope collapses, turning out to be a ploy all along so that he can lead a rescue party for the Sky Marshall, but can he get there before they go down to the bugs.
Was it worth resurrecting the series after the horrendous Starship Troopers 3?
No, not really, however, I’m going to start off with the positives. What made this more enjoyable than the second was that it returned to a similar style to the first film, opening with the same satire-filled propaganda videos, including the rising career of the Sky Marshall General Anoke. Yes, a singing Sky Marshall.
The character of Anoke is particularly fun to watch and is one of the most complex characters in the series. He starts off as an all singing (literally) and all dancing Sky Marshall, but when the cameras stop rolling for the propaganda coverage he takes his job seriously, and as the film progresses and he becomes obsessed with “Behemecoatyl”, the actor shows a good range whilst all the while adding to the fun aspect of the film. Ultimately he turns out to be an antagonist but he’s one of the funnest antagonists in recent years.
He plays a key role in one of the key plot points of the film the debate about the existence of God. This debate includes several members of the team that land on OM-1 getting into arguments about it, with only one of the characters solidly being in the “I believe in God” camp and another who only says he believes in God because he is in love with that character.
Whilst the storyline isn’t a bad one given the circumstances of the film, was it actually needed? The film seems to be more concerned with the debate of whether there is a God or not more than the danger that the bugs pose. Even on Earth, where they are relatively safe from the bugs, they are still talking about religion all of the time and whilst debates about religion is unusual in science fiction films, it definitely wasn’t needed. Not in the slightest.
It is this subplot which means that, other than Anoke the characters on the planet are quite bland to be honest. Ok Holly, we get that you’re religious, yes Bull, we understand that you love her, but there is little/no development in the characters, certainly not enough to make me care if they survive or not and this is one of the biggest downfalls compared to the first film.
Blalock is exceptionally dull in his large role in the film and it is hard to believe in her as a character that I should either care about, or think that she is the romantic interest of two of the main characters is very debatable.
In the first film you had numerous characters that you cared about, even the minor characters, but in this there is very little about them that is actually interesting. Even Rico’s situation isn’t enough to excite me. In the original one he had the struggles to having to deal with the decision of wanting to enlist simply because his girlfriend did, his reaction to his parents death, his relationship with the girl who is obsessed with him and his growth up the ranks. In the first film he develops excellently, but in this he is pretty much exactly the same at both the start and beginning. Again, am I supposed to care about him in this film?
Van Dien’s career was launched with the original Starship Troopers but it isn’t hard to see why his career never really progressed as you would have expected after that one. His only other appearance in a major Hollywood film after that was in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Sleepy Hollow”. His acting isn’t particularly exciting, he has little charisma and doesn’t really hold the screen at all.
Infact, other than Hogan no-one acts in a memorable way in this film and I would go as far as saying that he is the only person who comes out of the film with any credit, which is saying something.
There are some very careless mistakes made during the film. A prime example of the carelessness is when one of the six survivors on OM-1 is killed, but in the very next scene you see see six people walking across the sand-dunes. It is one of those mistakes that could easily have been avoided, and I do mean easily, but they have been very careless with it.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, this film is definitely better than the second, although that’s not hard. Despite this, the first film is easily the most enjoyable of the bunch and the third loses a lot of what made the first enjoyable.
Ultimately when you have a film with only one fun characters and the rest are so one dimensional it actually becomes a bit tedious. I found myself not caring about if the characters die and that’s never a good thing. I can’t get emotionally invested and whilst there are glimpses of what made the first film enjoyable.
If you’re going to watch the Starship Troopers films, only watch the first.