I got to admit that I may be running out of speculative fiction films to review, and I am surprised that I haven’t got around to this one. So let’s start this review with an analysis of the title. What do you honestly think a film about Starship Troopers would be about? If you think this is some escapist thing that is a cross between G.I. Joe and Star Trek, you would be dead wrong.
I would imagine that there were parents who ignored the “R” rating on this film and took their kids to it, thinking it was something as fun as Star Wars. This is the film’s biggest problem: it isn’t a lot of fun. However, it isn’t really supposed to be.
The film is based on a book by Robert Heinlein. If you aren’t familiar with that name, then you need to learn more about the grandmasters of science fiction. I remember reading this book as a kid, and I thought it was an interesting soldier’s story, but set in the far future. I can’t remember if the story is about propaganda, but the film seems to emphasize this, a lot.
This is really what this film is about. The film has a message that is about as subtle as a slap in the face, and it shows a world that could be as the future is a very military police state. It was clear that audiences were not expecting this, and many have interpreted this film as “fascist”.
This film shows a future where people are not guaranteed citizenship unless they do military service. Sure, mandatory military service is still in some countries, but this law is in effect in the future, big-time.
The film starts with a group of soldiers who are entering military service, at a time when these alien space bugs have invaded the Earth. In response, the space military goes to the space bug planet and wants to destroy them all.
In case you are wondering why the Starship Troopers cannot just bomb the living daylights out of the space bug’s planet, that is a very good point. Why in the world are they dispatching troops down on these planets when they could just nuke them from above? I’m sort of wondering if this illogical logic was intentional.
There is a lot of fascism going on in this film, and it has propaganda films that look like newsreels from the forties. The military seems to train its recruits at the school of maximum hard knocks, even whipping insubordinate soldiers publicly. Then, once the troops are trained, they are set out to kill alien bugs who are just all mouth and completely deadly. Much of the film then becomes the troops killing bugs, and it is violent.
In one scene, there is a scene where a soldier is captured by a flying alien bug, and the commanding officer shoots the soldier. If he was trying to put the captured soldier out of his misery, I can see this. Why couldn’t he have shot the alien bug? This commanding officer is then put in a position later where he is captured, and commands a soldier to shoot him. Yeah, there are a lot of scenes showing how military intelligence equals stupidity. There is even a scene with co-ed showers that I don’t get, other than a bad excuse to show nudity.
On the whole, I would say that this film shows what happens when the military gains more power than it should. Assuming that humanity ever gets the ability to explore alien planets, it is quite possible that we could have a real colonist mentality and not care about indigenous species. In fact, this film doesn’t show the alien bugs as anything but murderers, which is interesting because we are never told what these aliens really want. In fact, there are psychics in this universe, and they don’t seem to be trying to use their telepathy to understand these bugs. If anything, they just want to weaponize telepaths.
So yes, you are ready to watch a film that is essentially a cautionary tale about military propaganda, then Starship Troopers is for you. This film is a thinking-man’s science fiction film, but it isn’t without cool special effects and aliens. I don’t know if I can really recommend it, but I think the message is interesting, even if it is not what you might want to hear.