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November 1997, Week 3


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erik weems <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 13:47:19 -0600
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I saw this in DC last night at a 70mm theatre. The mostly packed theatre
cheered like crazy for the GODZILLA preview but not ALIEN RESURRECTION.
I couldn't really tell if Verhoeven was making a joke or a point (maybe
both?) about the neo-nazi looking future in STARSHIP TROOPERS, but the
idyllic fascism of the government was so cartoony I couldn't keep from
The central plot was a war film cliche', straight out of books older than
Henliens (Which I haven't read) - - Jonny Ricco,
-------> spoilers!!  <--------
raw recruit a bit confused about why there even is a military, becomes a
battle-hardened vet who steps in to take the place of the heroes who have
gone before him, and as the film closes he is in charge of a group of
recruits much like how he was when he first started out.
In mentioning antecedents to STARSHIP TROOPERS, may as go to ALL QUIET ON
THE WESTERN FRONT, which has the same basic, teacher/student dynamic.
In both stories, the central character has no family (loses the family or
becomes alienated from them) and then becomes integrated into a New Family
group - the military.
STARSHIP TROOPERS has excellent special effects. The bugs are fairly
distinct in their types, and the CGI is smooth, and only rarely is obvious
in it's computer origins (Some of the spacecraft footage looks like
diminutive models instead of big space stations, and the colouring on some
of the big beetles appears - - to me - - to be obviously digitally
The bland, tv-model presentation of the lead actors was kind of funny too.
In a film like ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, the fresh, naive appearance
of the young soldiers shows how horrible it is that this kind of innocence
is destroyed so easily - - in STARSHIP TROOPERS they didn't seem so much as
naive and fresh as they seemed air-headed and oblivious to anything but
The audience I saw the film with cheered, clapped and roared its approval
in certain key scenes. As I left the theatre I heard some comments:
College student looking guy: "It's a piece of propaganda"
Girl on arm of date with other couples : "I laughed and cried, I love that
A father with his son: "It's a scary movie!"
My protest about STARSHIP TROOPERS is how innocuous it makes war. At the
end of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, the ghosts of all the dead soldiers
(hell, the whole cast is dead by the end!) goes marching off over the end
credits, staring back at the audience one by one. At the end of STARSHIP
TROOPERS all the soldiers are firmly convinced in all their cartoon bravery
that they will now defeat the bug critters, and their way of life
(militarism/fascism) will march on triumphant.
As someone on another list pointed out ...there's really no difference
between the humans and the bugs they are fighting.
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