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Monday, August 8, 2011

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation DVD

The cover and the title make you think you're in for more than this movie delivers

As fans of Starship Troopers know, the very name Starship Troopers implies a galaxy-sweeping epic with lots of violence, gore, heroism, humor, drama and tons of big-budget special effects.

This one is limited to one location, his lots of gore but little in the humor, drama and big-budget special effects department.

One has to wonder at the thought processes in Hollywood. Starship Troopers was a big success. Sure, it was expensive, but it is also a regular staple on cable TV and it continues to sell well (#2500 or so on Amazon in DVD sells as of today - which isn't bad for a 10 year old movie).

One would think that a Starship Troopers 2 would have been in the works for a long time - perhaps a final push to the bug home system. Instead, according to the director's commentary track, the special effects director of the original Starship Troopers came up with this simple, low-budget plot that he wanted to direct. Somehow sold it to the powers-that-be at Sony and they backed it, provided that he slash his already bare bones budget even more.

So, what do you get when you give Starship Troopers 2 a budget that is only 5% (yes - five percent!) the size of the original movie? A bad movie full of special effects tricks that you are most likely to see in 50s sci-fi cult classics. The movie's premise changes from being a war epic to being a haunted castle movie, a premise that the producers and director freely admit to on the director's track. They also admit to it being a "B movie" and that it was intentionally filmed to go straight to DVD. It is a poorly-lit movie. That was also intentional - poor lighting means that the movie's special effects can be of lesser quality. Unfortunately, one of Tippett's other compensations for a low budget is to add more blood to every scene in the last half of the movie. It gets silly after a while, rather than dramatic.

The movie is derivative of several other movies and TV shows including:

-Star Trek: TNG. Remember the plot that Picard uncovered in which aliens were physically inserting themselves into the brains of high-ranking members of Star Fleet? Well, I hate to write a spoiler, but...

X-Files. Same as a above

Aliens - there's a scene that just steals from the one in which the Paul Reiser character drops an alien into Ripley's sleeping quarters.

Alien - the dark sets with a creepy monster about.

John Carpenter's The Thing - the premise of being an outpost cut off from the rest of humanity while an alien takes people over one by one. The scene where the General is chased into the base steals from the one in which the dog in The Thing is chased to the Antarctic research lab by the helicopter.

Brenda Strong comes to this movie as a familiar face, but not as the same character. Her character in the original Troopers was a fleet captain who died a horrible death. In this one she is an army sergeant. No one is quite sure why they felt the need to have a face from the first movie but she does a good job and on the director's track they credit her with making this movie shoot a positive experience on a lot of levels. That makes it all the more bizarre that her name is not listed on the cover of the DVD or on the back cover credits. Too bad - her character was just about the closest thing that I found to believable in the whole movie.

I give this two stars rather than one because I found the director's/producer's track to be quite fascinating. Maybe it should only be watched with that track playing because it fails to deliver on the promise of the original in so many ways.

Reviewed on August 19, 2006.

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