Bad Movies I Love #3 Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers was a flick I heard about in my teens, not long after it came out on video, so around 1998.

A buddy of mine, Geraint, had seen the flick and told me it was the shit, now my parents had always been strict with what movies I got to watch, I was the last of my friends to see The Terminator, Predator and all these other badass action movies that my friends would tell me about in great detail.

I’m not sure why my parents were so hardline about it, although I was petrified and scarred after seeing Jurassic Park at age 8. What annoyed me was that while I had to wait until my mid teens to see an Arnie movie that wasn’t Twins or Kindergarden Cop, when the embargo was lifted it was lifted for all 4 of the kids, meaning my youngest sister got a 5 year headstart on me, in fact my first viewing of Terminator at age 14 was with her.

Needless to say, since then I’ve absorbed countless brainless action movies, and while I love a good rom com, or well crafted drama, most times if I want to watch a film I’ll stick on something with explosions and daft one liners in.

Anyway, back to Starship Troopers. I wanted to see it, Geraint had made it sound like the most amazing, stunning movie ever made. My mum and dad watched it, and it failed to pass their test.

So, years later, I actually got round to sitting down and watching the flick, and my friend was kind of right. He’d said I’d love it and I did, but it wasn’t as amazing as I’d thought it would be, in fact, in lots of ways it sucked, but goddamn it if I didn’t love it anyway, maybe even moreso because of its flaws.

The movie follows Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) a young guy in a slightly fascistic future where you earn citizenship. Rico enlists in the military to join a war on these massive alien bug things, and becomes a trooper, mainly to impress his girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards). After initially struggling, Rico becomes a pretty good soldier and his besotted friend “Dizzy” (Dina Meyer) is in the same unit as him.

The film mainly follows Rico, Dizzy and their comrades in gory battles with the bugs. Here’s what I love about the film:

1. Rico

Our hero isn’t exactly that endearing, he’s cocky, not too bright and painfully oblivious to the fact that Dizzy wants to jump his bones. Van Dien isn’t a great actor, but he kind of works as the dumbass Rico. By the end of the film Rico’s risen through the ranks, mainly on the basis of bravery and luck in not being killed.

You could say there’s a satirical point in the fact that the best soldier isn’t particularly bright and so easy for the army to mould.

2. Rasczak

Rasczak is played by B-movie legend Michael Ironside and is Rico’s commanding officer and former teacher. He is also totally badass, and leads his unit the roughnecks with gruff efficiency. He’s like the seargent you get in all old war movies, tough as nails and dragging the grunts through.

Rasczak- Badass

He also gets most of the movie’s best lines, which are then nicked by Rico when he later takes over.

3. Somebody actually gives a worse performance than Denise Richards

Denise Richards is quite a bad actress. Her performance in The World Is Not Enough is shoddy even by the low standards of Bond girls (it would be surpassed by Halle Berry in Die Another Day, where Berry delivers lines in a way that doesn’t even seem human) and she’s not brilliant here, but she’s far from the worst actor on show.

There is so much bad acting in this flick its unbelievable, but just like Neighbours or slasher films, this actually becomes an endearing quality in the movie.

4. Nudity!

There are a few scenes that take place in the shower, where the characters (male and female, the General Infantry is for both genders) stand about and chat without once checking each other out.

Also gives rise to one of my favourite behind the scenes stories in which some of the cast were a little hesitant and so director Paul Verhoven actually stripped off as well, which is pretty decent and clever of him, I guess it levels the field.

5. Violence!

The gore content in this flick is pretty high. Nobody dies easy, there’s usually a severed limb or a massive gush of blood, and quite a few “That’s gotta hurt!” moments.

6. Cannon Fodder

Like all good war/action/sci-fi movies a lot of characters may as well walk on screen with a target on them. Rico’s squad contains a bunch of people who may as well already have toe-tags on.

There’s the overly cocky, posturing badass of a squad leader who gives Rico s*it and is toasted minutes later, a whiny ginger girl who freaks out and legs it during their first fight scene and most obviously of all, the trooper nicknamed “Kitten”.

Oh, Kitten, you never had a chance.

7. Don’t ask, don’t tell?

The more I watch this film I notice a 3rd love story. Rico and Carmen is the most obvious, followed by the torch that Diz carries for Rico and then the third, more understated love that Rico’s buddy/sidekick Ace (Jake Busey) has for his friend.

Seriously, rewatch the flick. I’m sure Ace has feelings for Rico. He wants to go with him on every patrol, and following Rico being dumped he says “Don’t worry, you’ve still got me to kick around.” A friendly joke? Or a desperate cry for attention from a lovestruck fool?

Rico and Diz dance, is Ace jealous?

Why does everyone go for Rico? Sure he’s quite buff, but everyone seems to want a piece.

8. Would you like to know more?

The best, cleverest thing in the movie is the fact it pushes the narrative on by having these little news bulletins where information is given ending with “Would you like to know more?” Its smart and shows how propaganda is deployed during wartime.

Its also one of those films where you can’t understand the hero’s choice in love interest, why go for Carmen when the much more badass Dizzy is right there?

Dina Meyer as Dizzy, definitely better than Carmen

Any thoughts? You know what to do. TTFN


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