previous 2004 sequel to Starship Troopers
was a small-scale intimate standalone horror movie set within the same
fictional universe as Paul Verhoeven's largely misunderstood 1997 magnum
This direct-to-DVD release by first-time director Ed Nieumeier (he
wrote the original Starship Troopers as well as
Robocop) is its direct opposite.
It is a direct sequel to the original film and even
though it is set ten years later it does in fact features some of the
characters (Casper van Dien returns as Johnny Rico, the original's chief
protagonist) from the 1997 film.
Starship Troopers 3
is also much more ambitious, featuring a sprawling story that often across
as more of a remake of the Verhoeven film than a sequel at times.
Starship Troopers 3's biggest problem is that its ambition often
outstrips its low budget. The movie is often let down by cheap special
effects, especially with the celebrated jump suits inspired by Heinlein's original 1959 novel featured towards the end of the movie. (The
jump suits were omitted from the Verhoeven film chiefly to save on costs,
but also because it was felt that they were too similar to the mechas
often seen in Japanese anime shows. Here they make for the weakest CGI
sequences in the entire movie.)
Once again fans of Heinlein's original novel would
disapprove of the end results. Nothing makes it intact from Heinlein's
book except for the famous line about wanting to live forever, the name of
a character and the concept of the jump suits itself. Like Verhoeven,
writer/director Nieumeier refuses to take the material at hand seriously,
taking not only cheap pot shots at Heinlein's fascist wet dream about a
society in which only those who have done military service enjoy full
citizenship and rights, but also drawing parallels between this fictional
universe and America's wars in both Vietnam and Iraq.
tone is again that of straight-faced camp and over-the-top humor. It is
like the first movie a war movie, but with the Nazis as the heroes this
time round. The plot involves all kinds of skullduggery at the upper
echelons of the human Federation which is waging a seemingly endless war
against the Bugs, a race of low-tech aliens who only seems unintelligent
but aren't really. Nieumeier makes all kinds of points about how the media
manipulates the truth and religion is used to mobilize the masses. Only
problem is that an air of over familiarity hangs over the proceedings.
After all, we have already seen this sort of thing done in the first film.
THE DISC: The audio commentaries and extra
features are of limited interest and mainly of a self-congratulatory
nature. Sure, the film accomplished a lot with its limited budget, but
seldom do the film-makers supply any examples of the sort of tricks they
used to save on the budget.
WORTH IT? Make no mistake though: Starship
Troopers 3 does OK with its no doubt limited resources at hand. (Like
recent direct-to-DVD sequels such as
Scorpion King 2 it was filmed in South Africa to make use of the
beneficial South African rand / US dollar exchange rate to save on
production costs.) Effects and sets are actually nifty at times, but
tellingly not as good as the 1997 film - even though it is now ten years
later. Then again, the original was made for a much much bigger budget and
considering that the movie ultimately flopped at the box office fans
should actually be thankful for any sequels of any sort. Also, the humor
is always welcome.
RECOMMENDATION: Some fans may whine and bitch
about the cheapness of it all, but we found it all rather watchable and
entertaining in a low-rent way even though the film isn't as good as it
thinks it is. Check it out if you've liked the original film. As far as
direct-to-DVD fare goes you can do a whole lot worse.