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Starship Troopers: A Story Of Three Friends
Starship Troopers was directed by Paul Verhoeven and starred Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, and Neil Patrick Harris. The screenplay was done by Edward Neumeier. This film was based on the science fiction novel of the same title by Robert Heinlein.
The setting is that of a future, space faring society run by a military government that offers citizenship to those who volunteer for military service. The story is basically about three friends who, immediately following high school, decide to earn citizenship through military service. Upon joining they are separated according to their respective applications and test scores and sent into separate branches and divisions of the military. Not long into their respective training, full scale war breaks out between humanity and an arachnoid species referred to as “the bugs”. Their lives and relationships are changed forever by their experiences as they pass through the fires of war.
Now, I’m afraid I’m going to have to warn you, I’m a little bit biased (in a way) where this movie is concerned. I personally enjoyed it. But, I will admit that that’s the case because I’m something of a science fiction fan. This film also seriously qualifies as a textbook action-adventure movie. In fact, I would call this a “guy movie” or a “spike” movie (in reference to the cable and satellite TV station of the same name as they are in the habit of, in a sense, specializing in just this sort of programming). What earns this film such a classification is the hard-rock, testosterone-charged dialogue, action sequences, and carnage that surround the lives of these friends as they experience the war around them. This is especially the case in the soldier’s life of Johnny Rico. As the film’s title indicates, the focus of the story is actually on Rico, a young “starship trooper”, rising through the ranks through action on the field, from private, to corporal, to sergeant, and finally to lieutenant.
As movies go, this is not a film in which one might expect to find a great deal of depth. And I mean that referring to just about any level of expectation that a movie-goer might have. I never read the novel, so, I won’t attempt to make any kind of connection between it and this movie. I have no idea what kind of “depth” the book offers. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t make any kind of comparison. Being the kind of escapist that I am, however, I have always been able to adapt my ability to enjoy a film to whatever said film actually does offer. Some might consider any lack depth, whether on the part of the story, the actors, the director (or whatever), something of a deterrent to enjoying the film, but personally, I think it a bit pointless to expect something from a movie that it doesn’t offer, whatever that might be, especially when it wasn’t made to offer it in the first place. What this movie actually did offer, I thoroughly enjoyed. There was just enough story for me to follow and identify (in whatever way I could) with the characters. Watching the character of Rico develop, at what seemed like a rapid pace, I found to be something of a rollercoaster ride. With the destruction of his home and the death of his family, I found myself pulled into his desire for revenge and thrilled by the camp commandant turning a blind eye to his drill sergeant tearing up a signed form that would have removed Rico from military service and blocked him from his quest to avenge his home and family. I found myself feeling pretty much all of the ups and downs of his experience as the turbulence of the war affected every part of his life.
There was one thing in this movie that somewhat stood out to me. Rico’s teacher and later lieutenant Jean Rasczak was the object of Rico’s admiration and became something of a mentor. I found the character of Rasczak to be particularly strong. Though not much of or about him is revealed, I found my attention captured by the depth of his views and his desire to communicate their spirit to his students. Later in the film when he appears as Rico’s lieutenant, I was taken aback by how hard he had become because of the loss of his family. He had become as hard as the circumstances of his service. This is revealed when Rico first joins “Rasczak’s Roughnecks”. His first words are brief, hard, and to the point: “This is for you new people. I only have one rule. Everyone fights. No one quits. You don’t do your job, I shoot you.” After Rico successfully kills a really large “bug”, he turns to Rico and says: “I need a new corporal. You’re it until your dead, or I find somebody better.” To me, this guy was an awesome C.O. Unshakable to the death. After Rasczak’s death, Rico is promoted to lieutenant and when he addresses his replacement recruits, he gives them the same greeting he got from his mentor, after which they are welcomed to “Rico’s Roughnecks” by Rico’s new sergeant, a veteran of Rasczak’s command. One of the things that I most enjoyed about this movie was watching the influence that Rasczak had on Rico’s growth and development as a soldier and a person.
As I pointed out earlier, this is not the kind of movie you’ll want to see if you’re looking for something with any kind of depth, whether in the characters or in the story itself. (And I say this on the basis of things I’ve heard from other movie-goers. Although, it suited me just fine.) But, for hardcore action, I would say this was good choice. As far as the sci-fi is concerned, I would consider it somewhat moderate. It’s more about the action than it is the sci-fi. So, bottom line, if you’re looking for a good sci-fi-action movie (emphasis on the action) that’s just plain fun and thrills, this would make a good candidate.