A lot of people didn't like it, but I thought that Starship Troopers was one of the best films of the 90's. Having endured a bitch of a week, with record pollen levels and mega-stressful overtime at work, I was in need of something to watch that I know and love. Hence the choice of Paul Verhoeven's adaptation of Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

It was a stroke of genius to reunite Robocop's director and writer for Starship Troopers. I think some of us might forget how groundbreaking Robocop was. In terms of special effects, stylized violence, and biting satire, Robocop stands damned near alone at the top of the list of futuristic action movies.

A lot of people were excited about the release of Starship Troopers, and few were more enthusiastic as I was. Heinlein was my first favorite writer, and while Starship Troopers isn't my favorite of his books, it's far from the worst. Imagine if Verhoeven had chosen to adapt Podkayne of Mars, or The Number of the Beast.

There was a cloud of controversy surrounding the release of Starship Troopers. Despite the almost staggering amount of violence in the film, it could have squeaked by with a PG-13 rating, thus ensuring greater box office returns. Apparently the MPAA was much more lenient on bloodshed that involved aliens than that of human against human. The thing that the ratings board would not allow to get the PG-13 were scenes of men and women soldiers showering together. Verhoeven stuck to his guns and refused to excise the scenes, which were critical to the vision of Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein felt that men and women would be completely equal in the future. Sadly, even though Starship Troopers earned its production budget back in worldwide revenue, it was considered a box office failure.

It did not fare much better from the critics. Some caught on and enjoyed the ride, but many dismissed it as trash. Roger Ebert praised aspects of it, but he was put off by the level of violence in Starship Troopers.

My hopes were in check when I saw Starship Troopers in the theater in 1997, but I was completely satisfied by it. I thought that the movie pulled off a neat trick. It captured the philosophies of Heinlein nearly perfectly, but it also managed to be an ironic parody of the fascist themes of the source novel. I think a lot of people took it too seriously. To me Starship Troopers works well as a comedy and a nail-biting action story.

I thought that the cast was uniformly excellent. Casper Van Dien portrayed the everyman heroic Heinlein protagonist beautifully. What happened to that guy? I thought he might move on to the big time after Starship Troopers. Denise Richards, before she was Sheened, played a love interest well, and Michael Ironside lived up to his name as the iron-willed Heinlein avatar character. Clancy Brown memorably played a hard-as-nails-with-a-heart drill instructor. Lunkhead actor Jake Busey was perfectly cast as "Ace", the lovably dorky best pal of Dien.

Despite lukewarm ticket sales, Starship Troopers has enjoyed a nice life in home video, TV, and cable. It was the first DVD I ever bought (along with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). It spawned to forgettable direct-to-video sequels and an animated series.

As for director Paul Verhoeven, Starship Troopers marked another notch in the descent of his career as a Hollywood filmmaker. It's too bad, because I always thought that he was one of the most interesting directors in the world. His early European movies like The Fourth Man and Soldier of Orange are great, but prior to Starship Troopers he made the movie that everyone loved to hate: Showgirls. I thought it was a ridiculously enjoyable movie, but it was a huge flop. I don't know who first made the statement that Showgirls was the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls of the 90's, but I think that's a perfect comparison.

Sadly, Verhoeven's final film in America is the only one I have no use whatsoever for. I found Hollow Man to be wholly abysmal, with no redeeming factors whatsoever. Previously Paul Verhoeven made fun trashy movies, but Hollow Man is merely ugly, stinking trash. He now makes films movies in the Netherlands.

Thought the special effects in Starship Troopers now look dated, the movie has aged well, I think. To date I consider it to be the best Heinlein adaptation by far.

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