Best of Prime Video: ‘Starship Troopers’ review

Insect Repellent: Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers” is an awesome sci-fi action, loosely based on Robert Heinlein’s novel of the same name. Pictured are Dina Meyer and Casper Van Dien, portraying their lovable characters Dizzy and Rico.

A cheese-filled satire that holds up to this day.

“Starship Troopers” is definitely one of those movies that you always hear very good things about, and it is unsurprising coming from Paul Verhoeven, director of classics like “Total Recall” and “Robocop,” for someone whose sci-fi films are always a schlocky good time, not to mention having believable worlds.

What makes this film so good is how campy it is. It is a military sci-fi film with satire at its core and soap opera elements as well. The everyman protagonist is Johnny Rico (portrayed by Casper Van Dien), a man who signs up to fight against a war on basically evil space bugs, joined by Dizzy (Dina Meyer), Carmen (Denise Richards) and Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) who enlist with him straight out of high school as their society demands them in order to make something of themselves. The cast is soon expanded as the storylines diverge, with Carl taking a backseat and the other three having the more substantial roles. This movie also has wonderful actors like Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside and Jake Busey.   

The soap opera elements come in the form of Rico and Carmen’s relationship, a love triangle involving another enlistee Zander (Patrick Muldoon), but while soapy elements are most of the time a turn off, it is done in a way like Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” in that it manages to be engrossing while still absolutely being soap, and the actors are likable enough to keep it even more engaging, however, “Starship Troopers” is a film with definite layers.

Those other layers are the bug-killing action and the military satire. The action, with surprisingly good cg that still holds up, feels like a movie version of the “Halo” series. The action is up to par with “Robocop” and “Recall,” and that is thanks to the mix of practical effects and cg that has made it age incredibly well even after being 20-ish years old, as opposed to films like the “Star Wars” prequels or even “Justice League,” which have aged like expired milk.

Finally, there is the satire. It is tough to explain correctly as I am by no means an expert, but it has bits of over-the-top propaganda and self awareness that makes it stand the test of time. Things like the infamous “service guarantees citizenship” and the really dark undertones make it interesting to see. My interpretation is that it is aiming to criticize the jingoism aspects that society had at that time, and it holds up in that regard as well.

“Starship Troopers” is yet another awesome, kick-butt and chew bubblegum flick that a streaming service has in its library. It is entertaining and subjective on many levels, and it is a film that feels well crafted. Everything has a purpose, whether that is intentional or not, and it is also incredibly re-watchable and fun, thanks to the characters and action that are truly memorable.