A Rare Movie Review
By Sheik Sebir
Starship Troopers
Review a SF Movie?


Was Starship Troopers, the movie, meant to be a "tribute" to Robert Heinlein, or a way of finally writing him and his ideas off, especially when it involves one of his books that many people disliked because of its political philosophy?

Your intrepid Editor goes where none have gone before, and takes the movie to task ! This was not a great movie, as the tabloid and other movie reviewers said. ( Mebbe they're publicity hacks for the Industry) Though it has its moments.... ;->

What ? A SF movie Review in the 'Rap ? Well, part of this rag's mission is to review significant novels, etc., that touch on the Church of All Worlds, and the CAWTN A a movie alledgedly based on "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein should fit right in.

The Movie

The movie does somewhat resemble the book, but it takes its themes and twists them into parody, irony, and absurdity - sometimes distorting them out of all all recognition. Frankly: the Director tried very hard to sabotage this story from the very beginning, and deliberately made a ridiculous movie. But like "Patton" it comes out better on the screen than was intended.
First, the characters are taken directly from "Archie Comics". When one sees a movie there is an implied rule that the viewer will suspend what one knows about the World and just enjoy the story. This becomes extremely difficult to maintain as the movie progresses - and it's deliberate. Yes, young people can be shallow, stupid, vain, pigheaded, and usually 'know' more at 18 than they do at 40 - but usually they question things - but all the main charactors can do is praise the impersonal System and its obedient youth. The only sensible charactors in the whole movie are the Hero's parents who tell him not to waste his time or risk his life trying for "Citizenship" The inconsistancies roll on...
  1. Imagine a Civilization "Half Way Across The Galaxy" able to hurl meteors at warp speed toward Earth and hit an Earth city at that speed, and not shatter the planet, but they show the city only having the damage of a WWII bombng raid. The method of attack in the book is unspecified...
  2. For a future civilization, the technology is surprisingly mundane 20Cen stuff. This movie was obviously not meant for an adult audience, shouldn't have been made that way - but it has an "R" rating, probably for the one sex scene it has.
  3. Imagine a space ship being hit by such a meteor before the actual impact on Earth and only suffer minor damage.
  4. Or, Government Experts boldly proclaiming that these creatures are just "bugs", without any intelligence, and coldly killing them "live" just to show how its done for the mass media... This was not the attiude of the book characters..
  5. Using WWII type propaganda - kids smashing bugs in a school yard. Newsreels(!)of Disobedient (non-conformist) Mormons planting a colony against Government wishes and being destroyed by an army of Bugs who are known to eat their enemies but the bodies they show NO signs of being eaten. The movie focuses on society, the book focuses on what a future company of infantry is about.
  6. The MI in the book were men, there was no co-ed training. Most of the pilots in the book are women..
  7. Imagine sending troop carrier spaceships into a hostile zone, then dropping "mobile infantry" from space. This is in the book and is one of the better scenes of the movie...
  8. Imagine this "mobile infantry" having been given the task of securing the whole Home Planet of the Aliens at the very outset. The [book] troopers were on a raid and wondered why they didn't do more at the time.
  9. The book hero, Juan, later went to OCS and became an officer, he woas not breveted in the field..
  10. Imagine a "War" being proclaimed against "Bugs" - animals. The book goes into excruciatin detail about them NOT being animals, in the book they have tech weapons !.
  11. Imagine these troops are armed with only machine guns and atomic hand grenades [[ throwing range 250 feet - lethal area of destruction - 1 mile ;-> ]]- not super death rays !!. Yes, the atomic handgrenade joke is in the book, but the troopers are better armed and have power assisted suits.
  12. Imagine the #$%^ kicking that the Earthers are going to be on the recieving end of (and actually recieve), when the Heroes practice to kill aliens totally different from the real ones, using ray guns, not machine guns in a live fire practice field in the middle of a parade ground.
  13. Imagine the Hero being tested for PSI and utterly FAILING, then, later on in the movie, going with a "hunch" - being right - and saving his star-crossed lover officer.

Review, Opinions and Review

There are many people in and out of CAW who don't like the book, sometimes for the oddest of reasons: its about dictatorship, social responsibility, war, bug-like aliens, and propaganda - but mostly its about citizenship and whether its a gift by birth or whether it should be earned by everyone, not just immigrants. Heinlein's alternate universes have some surprises , among these are:
  1. Japan was invaded and occupied by America in WWII - there was no A-Bomb. Japan's Emperor was tried as a War Criminal (as Truman demanded, but MacArthur was able to stop in this World).
  2. The US didn't have much of a Liberal element to counter it's more rabid Conservatism untile the "Crazy Years". The World goes into a recession in the first half of 20Cen, and returning vets move in to stop the anarchy and create a new world state..
  3. A pseudo-scientific group that finds persons with long lived ancestors and offers bonuses for marrying pre-selected mates - which become the very long-lived "Howard" families.
  4. "Justice" consisted of corporal punishment for minor crimes, hanging for murder and trials by sheriffs acting as judges. Japan's Emperor was tried as a War Criminal (as Truman demanded, (Gen. MacArthur was able to stop in this World).
  5. The US would become subservient to a far more powerful UN, about the time a certain Martian heads for Earth.
  6. After the Crazy Years, America would accept a Religious Dictator - the Reverend Schudder.
  7. The revolt against Rev. Schudder would be led by U.S. Veterans, among others, who became tired of the political and social corruption and stage a coup. They would require a period of Government Service in exchange for Citizenship that allowed one to vote and hold political office. {Revolt in 2100}

People who don't like Heinlien's stories throw around all sorts of epithets purporting to label and stuff in in a neat pigeonhole, like fascist, sexist, or homophobic; and this was one of the novels that brought out the worst of these "experts" in force to condemn it. The movie attempts to condemn it by faint praise, while sabotaging it every step of the way, yet the special effects are often spectacular. However, his books are very libertarian.

RATING : *** (increased by one star 6/16/09)

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