29 October, 2012

Starship Troopers

In the distant future, humanity is not alone in the universe but is in an intergalactic conflict with the the increasingly hostile race of large insect-like aliens, called arachnids or “bugs”, which originate from the distant planet Klendathu. In this future, ordinary civilians have no right to stand for political office or even to vote; only someone who has earned citizenship—through such actions as military service—has the right to stand for election, vote and have other privileges.
Buenos Aires high-school football star John “Johnny” Rico (MI), his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Pilot), and best friend Carl Jenkins (Military Intelligence) enroll for a term of active duty, which upon completion would grant them full citizenship, shortly before Buenos Aires is wiped of the map by a deliberately aimed asteroid which prompts the Federation to declare full galactic war against the bugs.
“Starship Troopers”, though based on Robert A. Heinein’s book of the same name, has very little in common with that book. It is as if the director and script-writer merely skimmed the novel, only stopping every twenty-third page to take notes, and even then only the most basic notes—such as taking a few character names, or what one type of enemy is called, and then just filling in the gaps with an unsatisfying story with strange battles that leave you thinking, “How could you do that?” or “Now, come on, that’s just silly.” One of the biggest shortcomings of this film, and a personal letdown for me, was the armour: for some reason it seems to be a real trend in sci-fi movies to have cool looking armour which is completely useless (cf. the Storm Troopers of “Star Wars”); this is a prime example of that because, in the book, a single MI wears a full-body suit, worth millions, able to jump over buildings, armed to the teeth with flamethrowers and talking grenades which tell aliens when it’s ready to explode and, the pièce de résistance, small shoulder-mounted nukes, just in case; instead of getting one of the coolest suits of armour in a book, we get some slight torso-padding and a plastic-looking helmet that couldn’t defend the wearer from a cheap Chinese toy made from cotton gently thrown by a infant.
Many flaws in the movie are unnecessary alterations of features which were clearly explained in the book (e.g., no female MIs, and Johnny Rico is depicted as a white American rather than a Filipino). This film fails as an adaptation of the novel; however, even with its many flaws, this is still a good, iconic movie with all the components for a great sci-fi film.

7 out of 10