Starship Troopers

Bomb Rating: 

In most rational societies, director Paul Verhoeven is the kind of man who would be tied to a stake, drenched in honey and covered with several billion hungry red ants until they picked his bones clean. Unfortunately, this is Hollywood, and in Hollywood, a man who's obsessed with action, violence and naked women is free to continue in his profession of choice, even after having been convicted of trying to torture the entire free world with "Showgirls."

However, Verhoeven was obviously aware that if he ventured anywhere near a Las Vegas strip club in either time or space, at least one disgruntled moviegoer was going to hunt him down and spend a busy day rubbing a cheese grater across his scrotum. Thus, Verhoeven has re-teamed with screenwriter Ed ("Robocop") Neumeier and turned Robert Heinlein's pulp science-fiction novel, "Starship Troopers," into a film. It starts in Buenos Aires, ends in the far reaches of the galaxy, and takes place in the 24th century.

In fact, "Starship Troopers" employs exactly the same structure as "Robocop," finally proving the long-suspected equivalence between Verhoeven's imagination and that of a pickle. Sarcastic news segments and military propaganda pieces are interspersed with the story of young recruits who go off to war to fight the bugs that threaten their existence. There's Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), the rich boy who wants to get in the pants of his girlfriend, Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), so bad he's willing to take a bullet. Then there's Carmen, who's looking for a career as a starship pilot. And finally, there's Doogie Howser, M.D. (Neil Patrick Harris), who's looking to get into some tight pants and jack-boots, and touch smart bugs in bad places.

What better way to get a group of undereducated teenagers to cheer mutilation and gore than to have your characters slaughter mean-looking bugs? Hey man, killing is cool. In addition to killing, Verhoeven gets his fix of just about everything else to which he's addicted. Need to show large-breasted women rubbing themselves? Say hi to the Paul Verhoeven future and coed showers. Suddenly, Verhoeven's meager contribution to film has quickly been exceeded by his contribution to future military recruitment.

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