February 21st, 2008


My year of movies, continued. Starship Troopers

At first glance, Starship Troopers is basically "Beverly Hills 90210 in space." Earth's heroic armed forces must confront and defeat a scourge of evil ugly bugs. The soldiers are young, nubile and confused about love. The bugs are vicious, disgusting CGI monsters that threaten to wipe out civilization. Pretty standard fare.

The whole thing is more interesting, though, once you realize that it's actually World War II from the Nazis' point of view. If you don't get this right away, you will after listening to the entertaining director's commentary. That's actually the reason I rented this schlock in the first place-- I saw it in the A.V. Club's Commentary Tracks of the Blessed.
Starship Troopers (1997)

Commentators: Director Paul Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier

Commentary Style: Emphatic. Verhoeven's commentaries are always lively, but few movies have been as widely misinterpreted as Starship Troopers, and he's eager to set the record straight. Quoting straight away from a Time magazine review that labeled it "fascist," Verhoeven counters that the film is anti-fascist, telling viewers, "Whenever you see something that you think is fascist, you should know that the filmmakers agree with your opinion."

What's So Special? Arguably the most subversive major studio movie of the '90s, Starship Troopers gets a rigorous defense from Verhoeven and Neumeier, who beat back the critics by interpreting the film for them. Verhoeven feels equal passion for politics and special effects, so when he isn't unpacking the machinations of a fascist state, he's marveling over his beautiful CGI creations. ("There are no politics in this scene. There are just big, ugly bugs.") And when he gets really excited, Verhoeven blows out the speakers.

Choice Lines: With the actors working against blue screens during the action sequences, Verhoeven took it upon himself to stand in for the giant attacking bugs. Verhoeven: "AHHHHHHHHH!!!!"