A trio of teen cadets fight on the front lines of an interstellar war.
The Complete Campaigns is a four-disc compilation of the Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles series that was originally released on eight DVDs: The Pluto Campaign, The Hydora Campaign, The Tophet Campaign, The Tesca Campaign, The Zephyr Campaign, The Klendathu Campaign, Trackers (including the four bonus episodes), and The Homefront Campaign. While Paul Verhoeven's dark, satirical adaptation of Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers seriously strayed from the novel, this Verhoeven-produced TV series--part sequel, part remake, all CGI animated--hews closer to the spirit of the novel, a space-age twist on a World War II battle adventure. Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles is a series of military skirmishes and assignments on a variety of fronts, such as Bug City, water-dominated Hydora, the desert planet Tophet, the jungle planet Tesca, fiery Klendathu, and good old Earth.
The episodic nature works perfectly within this framework, and the mix of Marine grit ("No retreat, no surrender!"), military jargon, and understated melodrama give a feel somewhere between the steely seriousness of an old-fashioned war comic book and the spectacle and romance of a Japanese anime space opera. The CGI animation is less ambitious than in such feature films as Toy Story, but it's one of the most impressive examples of the animation made for TV. The detailed designs, rich textures, 3-D modeling, and awesome sense of scale (not to mention the pumped-up action and whiplash speed of the bug army) give it the look of an impossibly sophisticated video game, with the rat-a-tat editing and soaring camerawork of a Hollywood movie. The budgetary shortcuts are evident in moments of blurring and jerking, but overall it's startlingly effective. The PG-level violence may not be appropriate for younger viewers, but it's aimed at an older crowd and has won a loyal adult following.
The packaging is very convenient (a shelf-space-friendly four discs in Thinpaks), but unfortunately, serious Roughnecks fans will want to hold onto their old discs. Cramming the eight discs of content plus bonus episodes (granted, Trackers was a short disc) onto four single-sided discs apparently left no room for the producer/technical commentary tracks that accompanied most of the previous discs. The only bonus features are photo galleries and a fold-out illustration. --Sean Axmaker, David Horiuchi
Beyond Roughnecks at Amazon.com
Stills from Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles (click for larger image)