Monday, August 11, 2008

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

I rented three different movies over the weekend and wanted to share some of my thoughts on each of them with you my loyal readers. But where to begin? I figured I'd start with the first one I watched. And that would be the direct-to-video sequel Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Why, you may ask, would I even want to see a DTV sequel to a Paul Verhoeven movie? Johnson, don't you know it's going to pale in comparison to the original? The way I figure, after seeing Robocop 3 in a movie theater, how much worse can it get? So basically, I did not go into ST3 expecting a Verhoeven movie. I just wanted to see something that had the same spirit and satirical tone of the original. Oh, and before someone brings it up, I don't read novels, so I don't give a shit about what happens in "the book." So did I get a pleasant viewing experience with the movie?

As a matter of fact I did. It has a much smaller scale due to the budget, but it does feature some cool action sequences. It even features a return of the Brain Bug from the original movie. It was written and directed by Ed Neunmeier who not only wrote the original Starship Troopers, but also the Verhoeven classic Robocop. He does manage to keep the spirit of the original alive and not just by having more news sequences with the famous "would you like to know more?" tag line. He actually manages to make the movie about something in terms of the fascist Federation. The driving issue of ST3 is religion. The thing is, Neumeier isn't really all that clear on what he thinks of it.

Basically, freedom of religion doesn't exist in the Federation and people who are religious are looked down on by most folks. There is a really cute, yet really annoying girl who says The Lord's Prayer repeatedly every time she's on the business end of a bug attack. Little-by-little, she wears down Jolene Blalock's character until she becomes a believer in her hour of need. Meanwhile, the woman who is command of the Federation sees that religion creates perfect soldiers because they stop asking questions and are willing do do whatever it takes because of faith. In the end, the Federation declares that there is a God, he is a citizen, and he is on the side of the Federation! But, at the same time, Lola Beck's conversion is sincere and she firmly believes God saved her from the HBIC (Head Bug in Charge). That's my term, not the movie's.

So what is it? Is freedom of religion necessary or is it just a useful tool for political power? The thing is, in declaring that there is a God, there still isn't freedom of religion in the Federation. The new policy just puts atheists in the same position the believers used to be in. So the message of the movie is confusing but it will spark debate. You can't say that for most DTV sequels.

As far as the cast is concerned, Casper Van Dien still can't act his way out of a paper bag. It's cool to see Johnny Rico back in action but he really isn't the main character. Jolene Blalock really carries the movie as Lola Beck. I think she's a good actress and more than just a nice body. It's a shame that Berman and Braga didn't give her much to work with on Enterprise. The CG effects looks straight outta 1995 TV (ie. Babylon 5). That is a nice way of saying they look crappy. But the budget was low so I understand. Unfortunately, my favorite bugs were not in the movie. That would be the Tanker Bugs. You know, the huge beetle looking ones that fart laserbeams into space. I guess they were too complicated for the budget of the movie. Oh well.

My suggestion for a fourth movie is to bring back Jolene Blalock but not Casper Van Dien. If Neumeier brings back a cast member from the original, my vote goes to Neil Patrick Harris.
If you can, watch the movie on Blu-Ray. The image is flawless. I imagine, given the budget, it was shot on HD video. It is a really nice looking disc. A nice looking presentation is always a plus for me.
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Andrew Shanks said...

I've been watching the original On Demand for the last month or so. When it first came out, I never thought a movie with a FPM [Fiddle Playing Marine] would entertain me, but it truly did. With your praise of ST3 I may end up getting the trilogy on PSP so I can have bugs wherever I go.

"I need a sargeant. You're it, until you're dead...or I find somebody better."

Chris Johnson said...

As far as the original goes, not only do I love Paul Verhoeven as a director but the cast was awesome. How can yuo go wrong with Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, and Neil Patrick Harris all in the same movie!

Andrew Shanks said...

Okay, so I watched Marauder this weekend. Honestly, not sure how to feel about it. It was WORLDS better than the 2nd movie, which was long, boring and stoopid. On the other hand, the song by the SM won't get out of my head. While I did like the Marauder toys, they weren't in the movie too long. However, when you're operating on a low budget, you have to sacrifice special effects for scenes with a panic-stricken cook who you know will be bug squash any second.

If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the director was trying to show us viewers that blind faith can be pretty damn dangerous.