Starship Troopers

2 h 9 min1997X-RayHDRUHDR
A corps of dedicated young men and women soldiers fight side-by-side in the ultimate intergalactic war: the battle to save humankind.
Paul Verhoeven
Casper Van DienJohn CunninghamDina Meyer
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Denise RichardsJake BuseyNeil Patrick HarrisClancy BrownMichael Ironside
Jon DavisonAlan Marshall
Sony Pictures Entertainment Co
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Nudityviolencealcohol usefoul languagesexual content
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4.7 out of 5 stars

8311 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Matthew D'SouzaReviewed in the United States on November 3, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Paul Verhoeven Hilariously Makes Fun of Military Enlistment Propaganda!
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Paul Verhoeven satirizes military propaganda in sheer violent style.

Director Paul Verhoeven, of Robocop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct fame, delivers a sci-fi action-comedy with his brilliant Starship Troopers (1997). Verhoeven is brazenly insulting the pro-war ideals and pro-military enlistment values of America with Starship Troopers. It is not a support the troops movie, but rather a never enlist because you will be maimed, killed, or broken in the army. Everyone gets promoted quickly in rank because every soldier before them gets killed. A majority of enlistments are played by actual children hilariously. It is pure anti-fascist sentiment and a hilarious spoof of every war movie imaginable. It even ends on a sign up for the military propaganda message. Paul Verhoeven delivers style and satire.

Verhoeven’s direction is incredibly gripping as he gets you to care about these foolish military hopefuls as they get killed one by one. Verhoeven really got a movie studio to sign up for the most irreverent and controversial satire in decades with Starship Troopers. The bloody gore and dismemberment is shocking, let alone the outright anti-military sentiments. The opening military propaganda sets the tone and the rest of the serve your country as a citizen ideas all make fun of the gung ho American concept of military might defining your nation. Writers Robert A. Heinlein and Edward Neumeier cleverly lambast military recruitment propaganda and targeted military marketing in smart dialogue that will make you laugh out loud.

Verhoeven even goes so far as to blame the government and military for attacking the bugs first a whole galaxy away, much like America invading foreign countries a planet away for their own imperialist intentions. The bugs are simply a metaphor for all the people America has sought out to fight and kill. They are looking for a smart bug after all. Starship Troopers is brazen, hilarious, and clever with visceral bloody gore in the war against the bugs. It’s honestly a better human doing the wrong thing against the bug invaders film than the Ender’s Game movie.

Editors Mark Goldblatt and Caroline Ross create a spry 128 minutes that moves fast from training to bug killing. The montages of military recruitment and propaganda are neatly cut together for optimal laughs. Jost Vacano’s cinematography looks incredible for the space wide shots and makes all the cute spaceship mini models look real. The human close-ups look wonderful and we’re always focused on the human devastation for emotional effect. Starship Troopers holds up visually for sure.

The use of CGI is surprisingly sparse only for the mass of bugs, but the numerous puppets for bug carnage and human dismemberment are shockingly realistic. You’ll never get another studio movie this real and gory. Allan Cameron’s production design makes outstanding spaceship and bug models among all the meteor cave sets. Bruce Robert Hill, Steven Wolff, and Robert Fechtman’s art direction looks astonishing and creative. Robert Gould and Steven Schwartz’ set decoration adorns the rocks with all manner of details like the military bases with tons of gear. The bug designs for the spider-like arachnids, fat mortar slugs, beetle tankers, flying dragonfly bugs, and grotesque alien smart bugs are neat.

Casper Van Dien is very sympathetic as the morally neutral hero John Rico, who is indoctrinated to join the military by his teacher and peers alongside government propaganda. He has to feel good, while really killing every bug without mercy. Dina Meyer is lovely as Dizzy, the fit military girl that secretly loves Rico. Denise Richards is so beautiful and fun as the spaceship pilot Carmen Ibanez that gets Rico to recruit against better judgment all because he loves her. Richards got a lot of flack for Starship Troopers, but she plays the part well of the selfish girl only desiring rank and power.

Jake Busey’s all killer no brains Private Ace Levy is the pro-war guy that turns out to be a steadfast friend. Neil Patrick Harris is great as the secretive military intelligence agent Colonel Carl Jenkins, who has mind control powers and uses all his methods to send troops to their deaths out of strategy. Clancy Brown’s fierce drill Career Sergeant Zim is charismatic and intense. You see his ruthless methods to turn regular civilians into bug killing machine citizens. Michael Ironside’s intimidating teacher and Lieutenant Jean Rasczak represents the societal pressure to enlist. Patrick Muldoon is great as the foil for Rico with his ambitious space pilot Zander Barclaw. Amy Smart is adorable as the eager young pilot Cadet Lumbreiser. Dean Norris gets an excellent part as the stern Commanding Officer.

Composer Basil Poledouris, of Conan the Barbarian’s legendary score fame, crafts a beautiful score for Starship Troopers. He helps lambast the military with war fanfare and army themes to shoot down the bugs in glory. Paul Verhoeven’s massive sound design team of Harry Cohen, Dean Beville, Greg P. Russell, Randy Thom, Stephen Hunter Flick, Charles Maynes, Warren Hamilton Jr., Patricio A. Libenson, David Lewis Yewdall, Kevin O’Connell, Susan Dudeck, Greg Hedgepath, Ed Callahan, Michael J. Benavente, John Pospisil, Jeff Glueck, Joseph Geisinger, Dan Sharp, and Tony Araki nail the bug wails and human screams. You get the bug racism metaphor really well by the time you see and hear how complex the numerous bugs are in their society.

Costume designers Ellen Mirojnick and Nick Scarano create black military armor for the soldiers and S.S. uniforms for military intelligence that’s certainly on purpose. “It’s afraid” is a line that will live on in infamy to prove that the military is just to intimidate enemies as they want to kill all bugs, not protect humanity. Bill Myers’ do a great job of making every human look nice and stylish and I’m sure they helped make the bugs even grosser.

In conclusion, Paul Verhoeven is a genius director and Starship Troopers shows off his irreverent wit and love of lust and brutal combat. War has never looked closer to a hopeless agony as everyone dies in vain.
6 people found this helpful
Thomas M. SiposReviewed in the United States on April 25, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars
9/11 Satire -- Shot Pre-9/11
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Bedtime story, from Papa Bush to his young 'uns: Once upon a time, a long time from now, there was a United Earth. A New World Order of peace, prosperity and freedom. Everyone was clean and pretty and healthy. Good genes, all around. Black people too. And the streets were clean, and the environment, and the trains ran on time. Then one day, bad monsters attacked Earth, because the monsters were evil and ugly, and looked like giant bugs (because they were giant bugs), and they hated anybody lucky enough to have so much peace, prosperity and freedom, and who were so good-looking.

But luckily for the happy people of Earth, their world government had the bestest military in the universe, with lots of gnarly weapons and way cool uniforms. So everyone enlisted like crazy to fight the ultimate war between good and evil. The politicos and top brass called it the Bug War -- but for the young recruits, it was the kick-ass adventure of a lifetime!

The bugs never had a chance. The end.

No, not a bedtime story, but Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, a dead-on satire of post-9/11 war hysteria -- astonishing because it was released in 1997!

The film's satire was originally aimed at its source material: Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel, Starship Troopers (condemned by some critics upon publication as "fascistic"). But like humor-impaired Trekies, many Heinlein fans remained clueless and unamused. They complained that the film had replaced Heinlein's socio-political military philosophy with mindless bug battles. Few realized the joke was on them. Verhoeven didn't so much ignore Heinlein's philosophizing as lampoon it.

Heinlein's novel paints a future Earth in which everyone enjoys equal rights and liberties -- except to vote and hold office, which are reserved only to those who complete military service. Enlistment is voluntary and non-discriminatory; any sex, any age. Blue-haired grannies can sign up. But no special treatment. Many softies die in the sadistically brutal boot camps. (However, you can quit anytime, without reprisal). Another rule: everyone fights. Cooks, supply clerks, nurses, medics, privates, generals. No paper pushers or desk warmers in Heinlein's military.

Verhoeven's Starship Troopers parodies Heinlein's romanticized military culture by trivializing and sanitizing war. Soldiers are sexy and clean even after battle, ready to party hardy. Ready to die. Dina Meyer's deathbed speech satirizes an old war film clich?: while reaffirming her love for her main squeeze, she nobly adds that she has "no regrets" about her sacrifice.

For "red shirt" soldiers, death is less sentimental. Quick -- and quickly forgotten. After shooting a captured soldier (to prevent a painful bug death) Michael Ironside curtly informs his platoon: "I expect you to do the same for me." Which they do.

Starship Troopers was no big hit in 1997, but it has its fans, many of whom -- judging by review postings on -- confuse the film for a serious sci-fi epic with a "war is hell" message. (Not surprisingly, post-9/11 postings are more likely to "get it".)

Those who doubt the film's satirical intent should consider one hero's uniform, which can best be described as neo-Third Reich. Clearly, Verhoeven's film was not informed by Heinlein's libertarian fans, but by those critics who interpreted the novel as fascistic.

Also noteworthy, the film's stars are all strikingly attractive with well-chiseled Aryan features.

However, their SS physiques are not part of the plot, but merely a hint at the film's underlying satire. Plotwise, Federal Service (as it's called) is open to all, and the Aryan protagonists warmly welcome their sidekicks of color. In one brief scene, a dumpy black female is appointed as the new Sky Marshall, promising to "take the war to the bugs."

However, because many moviegoers confuse fascism with racism, and because most of them were unfamiliar with the novel, the film's satire was lost on many. For most moviegoers, the film was just vapid soldiers shooting giant bugs. Further obscuring the satire, the soldiers were just too damn sexy, the bugs too mean and ugly. We humans are inclined to sympathize with attractive people, which is why satirists often paint their targets in hideous garb (communists as pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm, and as grotesque vampires in my own Vampire Nation).

Starship Troopers takes the opposite tact, painting globalist fascism as imagined by globalist fascists. Everyone is healthy and happy and sexy. The satire is in the exaggeration of fascist ideals (as in Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream). With unwavering fortitude and unshakable confidence in Earth's inevitable total victory, Denise Richards flashes her Pepsident smile throughout the film. In hairy battles, her mouth may turn sexily pouty, but her brilliant teeth soon return, vast and blinding, equally at home on a TV commercial and an SS recruiting poster.

Want to laugh out loud? The funniest scenes are the recruiting ads and "news" propaganda bulletins. One "news" item features warmly grinning soldiers distributing bullets to the delighted squeal of eager schoolkids. (How clueless do you have to be to post reviews at Amazon praising the film's "war is hell" message?)

But the clueless are out there. Unfamiliar with the book, smitten with the sexy stars and repelled by the bugs, many didn't "get" the jokes. In practical terms, until 9/11 Starship Troopers was a satire without a target. The war hysteria following 9/11 provided that, the players and events stepping tailor-made into the film's sites with amazing prescience, granting the film a powerful resonance that was lacking when it was first released.

All the parallels are present. The enemy -- the Bugs -- are pure evil. The military, the news reports, the war, the government, are all beyond question. If they make a mistake, they can be trusted to correct it. United Earth we stand.

The Bug War begins with a Bug attack on a city. In the film's eeriest scene, a burning building's framework resembles the Twin Towers. Also remarkable are the many random jokes that find a target post-9/11. In adapting a 1950s book to a 1990s sensibility, Verhoeven tossed in some contemporary satirical barbs unconnected to the book, or even to much of anything in 1997 -- but which eerily resonate with our post-9/11 war culture.

There is the film's black female Sky Marshall, a kooky but satirically pointless joke in 1997. Yet it's a role tailor made for Condoleezza Rice. There are the TV war correspondents, absent in the book, but today stationed in Iraq. They pester the soldiers in battle, don't appreciate the threat, and are killed by the bugs. There are the TV pundits who would understand the bugs, woolly and ineffectual as seen through the film's fascist prism (the New World Order likes to see itself as tolerant).

Starship Troopers is a penetrating satire of post-9/11 war hysteria as might be imagined by an idealistic New World Order fascist. It's hard to believe it was made pre-9/11; impossible to think it could be made post-9/11. Starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, and Michael Ironside.
27 people found this helpful
patrick collinsReviewed in the United States on December 3, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A bug’s life
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Picture this: you invite someone into your home for dinner, and instead of being gracious, they spend the entire evening openly insulting you. They mock your cooking, laugh at your choice of furnishings, deride your values, all while helping themselves to your booze. I’m sure we can all agree that that’s no ones idea of a good time, and yet that is almost exactly what Dutch director Paul Verhoeven did back in 1997 when he directed Starship Troopers. Perhaps that goes someway to explaining why the film was almost universally panned by US critics of the day, whom to a man refused to acknowledge the film’s explicitly satirical execution and, in the critical equivalent of who smelt it dealt it, instead decided to accuse Verhoeven of making a piece of fascist propaganda. But while the movie’s reputation in the US remains in the gutter, everywhere else in the world this film is seen as a classic, with many considering it to be Verhoeven’s most accomplished American film: it’s more polished than Robocop, not as silly as Hollow Man or Total Recall, nor as vapid as Basic Instinct or Showgirls. Plus the satire is razor sharp.

The story is fairly simple: in the distant future, some space Mormons from a now fascist America set up a mission on an Alien planet. The Aliens, construing the outpost as an advance on their home world, retaliate by massacring the Mormons and firing asteroids on earth. Meanwhile in a colonized Argentina, Barbie and Ken are graduating high school where they’ve been educated on a diet of nazi propaganda by the maimed and limbless survivors of some previous, unmentioned conflict. Barbie makes plans to enlist as it’s the only pathway to citizenship and by extension access to higher education or the right to start a family, while idealist Ken follows her for more goofy teen reasons. When an Alien asteroid strikes their city and obliterates their Dreamhouses, Barbie and Ken slowly lose whatever modicum of humanity they had and turn into space nazis. It’s the age old story.

From the opening scenes -a shot for shot recreation of Leni Riefenstahl’s work in Triumph of the Will disguised as a mock PSA for army recruitment- through to the astonishingly fascist civics lesson where we’re introduced to our protagonists and their world, Verhoeven’s intentions are clear. By placing the action in a post liberal, right wing dystopia, he avoids the lecturing preachiness of It Happened Here, and focuses his attention squarely on showing us just how merciless and horrifying such a dystopia would be. Concepts like social justice, personal liberty, even love are dismissed in favour of the becoming a citizen: a person who is willing to sacrifice anything -including their life- for the preservation of the body politic. To those unsure which side of the argument Verhoeven himself lands on, he draws a direct parallel between that ideology and the mindless obedience of the icky arachnids, a trait which as far as Rue McClanahan’s scarred biology teacher is concerned, trumps our individualism and superior intellect, and which makes them superior to us.

But Verhoeven knows that fascism cannot take hold without the approval -however tacit- of the broader population, so he cannily utilizes the template of the hyper militarized action films of the day, using the audience’s hunger for that type of violent wish fulfillment to point the finger at us. What the critics of the day called propaganda, is actually an indictment on our complicity in the seemingly inexorable march towards totalitarianism. Sure, he thumbs the scale by making the alien arachnids some of the most frightening, least sympathetic antagonists ever committed to film, but by hiding the origins of the conflict in a flawless takedown of the type jingoistic news reporting de rigueur on American networks, he’s encouraging us to look at how easy it is to manipulate us. And funny as it is watching a wild-eyed and hysterical Donna Reed type encouraging her kids to squish bugs, Verhoeven is asking us to recognize that by priming people from birth to accept the use of force as some sort of virtue, it’s all too easy to convince people that war and its attendant atrocities are justified and justifiable. The human wreckage this ideology has wrought is seen everywhere, from Micheal Ironside’s missing arm and Rue McClanahan’s disfigured face, to a quadriplegic recruitment officer unironically exclaiming that “the mobile infantry made me the man I am today” Verhoeven is asking us to question how we’re being manipulated, because pursuing this type of ideology is like wielding a knife without a hilt- just as likely to hurt you as it is your enemy.

But this is a Paul Verhoeven movie, so all this satire is dressed up in some of the most exciting and explicitly violent action ever put in a mainstream Hollywood movie. The grotesque and terrifying effects by legendary effects artist Phil Tippit (who’s work includes the Raptors in JP and the AT-AT walkers in ESB) are astonishing even by today’s standards, and would give any modern MCU cartoon a run for their money. This truly is a fantastic film, get it in the best format you can and strap in, it’s one hell of a ride!
20 people found this helpful
EdReviewed in the United States on November 5, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Awesome movie from the 90s
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You can't go wrong with this movie. Think of it as in the same ballpark of movies like Independence Day and Jurassic Park and The Mummy and Batman Returns and more. But it's Starship Troopers. 🤣
JamesReviewed in the United States on November 19, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Has a lot of action
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Greatest movie of all time
Burro gordonReviewed in the United States on November 16, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Es hora de cazar insectos
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Está chingona .me encantó el empaque metal
Pimp DaddyReviewed in the United States on October 19, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Love this
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Seen this movie so many times heck it was the first DVD I bought when DVD's first came out. Actors were great and the way it was presented was unique that is what gave its charm. After this film you will look at bugs in a whole different way long live Rico's Roughnecks
One person found this helpful
lraeReviewed in the United States on January 31, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Figuring things out for yourself is practically the only freedom anyone really has nowadays. Use that freedom.
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What is fascism? It’s not just Nazis, for the real base of fascism is corporate control of all aspects of social, public, and political life. How do we think the Reich managed their nefarious program (progrom) so well? Some corporation had to build the trains, weld the gates, provide the chemical development of Zyklon B. Hell, the mechanism the Nazis used to keep track of the fodder for their heinous death-machine was built and managed by IBM.

Fascism is characterized as:
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, and long incarcerations of prisoners.
Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists…
Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation or by sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Government censorship and secrecy, especially in war time, are very common.
Obsession with National Security
Fear of hostile foreign powers is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Protection of Corporate Power
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Suppression of Labor Power
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .
Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Perhaps this puts Starship Troopers in another perspective. Sure, it’s corny, it’s parodic, it has awesome special effects and models and matte shot that are truly well-done for its era, advanced for 1997. But Verhoeven was making an incisive commentary on how society can easily throw away its little freedoms for the specter of “safety and security.” Verhoeven commented on his approach to the movie in January, 2018 :
“Robert Heinlein's original 1959 science-fiction novel was militaristic, if not fascistic. So I decided to make a movie about fascists who aren't aware of their fascism... I was looking for the prototype of blond, white and arrogant, and Casper Van Dien was so close to the images I remembered from Leni Riefenstahl's films. I borrowed from Triumph of the Will in the parody propaganda reel that opens the film, too. I was using Riefenstahl to point out, or so I thought, that these heroes and heroines were straight out of Nazi propaganda...

Don’t expect this movie to be at all like Heinlein’s book — there are no jump suits nor many of the tropes RH resorts to in many of his books. There is an incisive commentary on how Nazi-like states arrive and insinuate themselves into citizens, or those who want to be citizens.

Or, you can just watch this movie for fun, because, “The only good bug is a dead bug.”
4 people found this helpful
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