In this rapid-fire sequel to the cult favorite, the Federation's best Mobile Infantry unit goes back into action against the Bug horde. But this time, the Bugs are waiting for them. Trapped on a remote outpost light years from the nearest reinforcements, a small group of soldiers fights an enemy smarter and more cunning than any they ve ever faced. Now they must join forces with an infamous traitor to the Federation if they are to have any hope. And it's not just their lives at stake, it's the survival of the human race. If they want to live, they'll have to use their heads before the Bugs do! Academy Award(r) winner Phil Tippett (1994, Best Visual Effects for Jurassic Park), one of the greatest visual effects wizards in movie history, makes his directorial debut.
Allowing for all the low-budget shortcomings that plague any straight-to-video production, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation
serves up 92 minutes of passable sci-fi action. Parlaying his veteran status as an animator, special-effects wizard, and stalwart survivor of the CGI revolution, Phil Tippett (with returning screenwriter Ed Neumeier) makes a woefully uninspired directorial debut with this makeshift sequel to Paul Verhoeven's 1997 blockbuster
, retaining the jarhead militarism of Robert Heinlein's original novel while serving up more bugs, an all-new cast of attractive young stars, and all-too-familiar plot elements borrowed from a dozen better movies. "Bigger is better" is out of the question under such meager budgetary circumstances, so Tippett and Neumeier compensate with gruesome bugfights and gross-out effects at regular intervals, some standard-issue nudity, and escalating paranoia (echoing Carpenter's The Thing
) when a new breed of bugs use human hosts (à la The Hidden
) to overtake a stranded platoon of Federation soldiers on a bug-infested planet. Relying on murky confinement to hide nondescript sets, Troopers 2
has three engaging leads in its favor: TV regular Richard Burgi is solidly cast as the titular hero (he's the military equivalent of Pitch Black
's Riddick); Colleen Porch is engaging as the most sensible Federation survivor; and screen veteran Ed Lauter makes the most of his salty role as a battle-hardened general. Unfortunately, they're adrift in a knock-off sequel (shot on high-def digital video) that could never do justice to its energetic predecessor. --Jeff Shannon