U.S., 1997, 129 min, 35mm, Dir. Paul Verhoeven, Rated R, Sony Pictures Releasing

Starship Troopers

Saturday, 1/28 at 11:45 pm

"A jaw-dropping experience, so rigorously one-dimensional and free from even the pretense of intelligence it's hard not to be astonished and even mesmerized by what is on the screen." - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Sometimes satire is so biting and so on target that it goes over the audience's head. Such was the fate for Starship Troopers upon its release 20 years ago. Starting out as a script called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine, director Paul Verhoeven’s attention was drawn to Robert Heinlein’s controversial sci-fi novel Starship Troopers, which had similar elements. But Verhoeven hated the novel, calling it “a very right-wing book” and proceeded to satirize the notorious militaristic and fascistic elements within. Johnny Rico (an "Argentinean" Casper Van Dien), along with girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards) and best friend Carl (Neil Patrick Harris), enlists in the Federal Service after graduation, which is the only path to full citizenship in this world. During training, the insectoid species of Arachnids from planet Klendathu launch an asteroid that destroys Buenos Aires, instigating an interstellar war. Collaborating with RoboCop screenwriter Edward Neumeier, Verhoeven created an almost cartoonish portrayal of fascism in space, complete with shot for shot recreations of scenes from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. Calum Marsh of The Atlantic defended the film in his article titled, “Starship Troopers: One of the Most Misunderstood Movies Ever”, where he praises the film’s critique of “the military-industrial complex, the jingoism of American foreign policy, and a culture that privileges reactionary violence over sensitivity and reason.” For his part, Verhoeven called his work the “most expensive art movie ever made.”

Poster art by Kilian Eng

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