18
2hrs 10mins

A grim authoritarian future and an intergalactic war with a race of killer bugs is the site of giddy action and satirical comedy in Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven’s third science fiction masterpiece. Both a gripping war film and an endlessly funny send-up of nationalistic fervour, it stands as one of his finest films.

Unfortunately no Audio Description track is available for this feature.
Paul Verhoeven Retrospective
Paul Verhoeven
18
Sci-fi
frequent fantasy horror, gore and mild nudity
English

Set in the twenty-third century, Starship Troopers’ cast of mannequin-esque human characters is led by Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), whose journey from high school in Buenos Aires to the frontline of an interplanetary war with an insectoid species called Arachnids (more commonly referred to as Bugs) forms the basis for another exercise in genre excess from Paul Verhoeven.

Also featuring Denise Richards, Michael Ironside and Neil Patrick Harris, the future Earth of Starship Troopers is one draped in fascist iconography, with schoolchildren being taught about the past failures of democracy, and hatred of the Bugs being endlessly drummed up through news programmes decrying the savagery of the enemy.

Like Total Recall, Starship Troopers is based on a key work of science fiction, this time being adapted (with RoboCop scribe Edward Neumeier) from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel of the same name.

Unlike Verhoeven’s tribute to the work of Philip K. Dick, however, Starship Troopers is a straight send-up of its source material, turning its tribute to “all sergeants anywhere who have laboured to make men out of boys” into a riotous satire of American militarism, societal group think, and colonial failure.

That the film was so wildly misunderstood on its release, yet seems so prescient today, is yet another tribute to Paul Verhoeven’s clear-eyed, misanthropic view of human nature, and political power.

This film is screening at Tyneside Cinema as FLESH + BLOOD: THE CINEMA OF PAUL VERHOEVEN which you can learn more about here!

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