Starship Troopers (1997)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good looking for the time, interesting themes

Misses the mark, so-so acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Starship Troopers

Studio:  TriStar Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/War

Release Date(s):  November 7, 1997

MPAA Rating:  R


We’re going to be besties 4 ever!

Earth is at war with the Arachnids from the planet Klendathu.  As the Federation gets into more and more conflicts with the “Bugs”, more fighters are needed and a younger generation is sought out.  Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) decides to leave his posh life behind and enters the infantry to impress his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) while their friend Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) finds himself drafted into elite military intelligence branch.  As Rico finds himself drifting apart from Carmen who finds herself teamed with Zander Barcallow (Patrick Muldoon), his classmate Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer) seeks to win him.  When the Bugs make an unprecedented strike at Earth, all-out war commences and the key to defeating the Bugs must be found!


I want to die at the claws of a giant bug!

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Starship Troopers is an adaptation of the 1959 science-fiction classic by Robert A. Heinlein.  The film was relatively well received by critics and a box office success.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visuals Effects.

I kind of missed the Starship Troopers boat.  It was released when I was out of the country and already gone from theaters when I got back.  I saw it not long after it came on video and though I enjoyed some of the effects and story aspects it didn’t impress me much.  Now over fifteen years later, it leaves me with the same opinion.


Worst game of tag

The film’s story has some great stuff.  The movie turned Heinlein’s story into a more humorous romp than a hardcore military film by adding rather tongue-in-cheek, social commentary propaganda “commercials” to join the Federation.  The problem is that the war story is rather slow and basic.  The battles might be impressive, but the quest for the “Brain Bug” isn’t that interesting…and the misguided love story is even worse.

The acting is where the movie suffers.  It is a movie full of young fresh faces with the main five cast members Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, Dina Meyer, and Patrick Muldoon being very shiny and happy and with little substance…plus acting-challenged.  The movie also has appearances by Jake Busey, Clancy Brown, Marshall Bell, Rue McClanahan, Amy Smart, Robert David Hall, and genre vet Michael Ironside in various size roles.  It probably shouldn’t be on anyone’s “actor reel”…the script really doesn’t inspire much from the actors and the acting is all rather stage-like.


It’s saying…”You are all hack actors”

The visuals for the movie were quite amazing when the film was released.  The CGI Bugs were very “real” and felt a lot like Jurassic Park…but the movie even improved on blending of the CGI into real environments (they did use a few model versions).  The movie has held up decently and still looks rather strong.

Starship Trooper is one of those movies that came close to impressing.  The movie just slightly missed the mark and was hindered by casting by looks rather than ability.  I do like the themes and some of imagery of the movie, but it needed to push a bit harder.  Starship Troopers was followed by a straight-to-DVD sequel Starship Troopers 2:  Hero of the Federation in 2004.

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Related Links:

Starship Troopers 2:  Hero of the Federation (2004)

Starship Troopers 3:  Marauder (2008)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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