From its opening moments, STARSHIP TROOPERS screams that it's going to be full-on satire, funny, gory and action packed. There's nothing subtle about it.
But them subtle isn't a word often used in the same sentence as Director Paul Verhoeven. His best films, "Robocop", "Basic Instinct" and "Total Recall" are all over-the-top masterpieces of sex and violence, a model he keeps in play to great effect here.
It's the future and the countries of the World seems to have become one entity, with every high school kid constantly messaged to join the military and earn the right to be a citizen.
We meet Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien, our square jawed, likable hero) his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards displaying a stunning lack of acting talent, but encouraging laughs throughout due to her wooden line readings) Dizzy (Dina Meyer) and Ace (Jake Busey in a fun performance).
Their friend Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) joins as well, whisked into the intelligence services and guaranteeing you'll see him in a long black Gestapo-like jacket in short order.
Our enemy in the future is a massive planet of very big bugs. Like gigantic cockroaches, they are hard to kill and have begun launching massive meteors at the Earth, destroying one city at a time.
Our armed band of brothers and sisters head toward the bug planet, determined to wipe them out.
Verhoeven is having a ton of fun here and its contagious. He intersperses the film with laugh out loud news updates from the federation that send up WWII news reels, while foretelling the way we get our news on line today. Considering this was made twenty years ago, it's pretty spot on for our small attention spans of today.
It's a massive war film, with huge scale battles that are sometimes jaw dropping in the sheer number of vicious bugs. It's violent as hell and doesn't miss a moment of bloody mayhem.
It's also a science fiction flick, with tons of space action and stellar battles, mixed in with scenes of our troops prepping and bonding.
Verhoeven doesn't shy away from ample nudity either, bringing his European sensibility to our puritanical approach to battle.
With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, its a send up of every serious war/giant bug/propaganda film you've ever seen.
You've never had quite this much gory fun watching thousands of troops battle bugs.
90's movie stalwarts Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Top Gun), Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption) and Patrick Muldoon (Melrose Place, Stigmata) all deliver the goods.
Followed by two direct-to-video sequels of poor quality, STARSHIP TROOPERS is pure Verhoeven, throw everything in your face madness. I couldn't stop laughing and enjoying it long enough to be outraged.
It's a $100 million action flick/satire/social commentary disguised as a giant bug movie.
The humans and the bugs get a B.
It's not for the squeamish....