Starship Troopers: did anybody understand it?

i was reading an old thread about “movies you despise” and saw Starship Troopers listed several times. it made me wonder once again why even intelligent people can’t see this movie for the satire that it was. on the surface, it’s a vapid Hollywood EFX movie, but you might want to watch it again if you missed the point.

what i’m curious about is why the director Verhoeven had so much faith in the American movie-watching public. and now, after the fact, does he feel disappointed that so few people really got the joke? i always felt Robocop was brilliant and Total Recall was interesting–should i now watch Basic Instinct and Showgirls again and see if they have any merits?

it’s kind of scary how on target the movie is about American imperialism. considering the current crisis, you could almost substitute the word “Arab” for the word “bug” in the movie and it would mirror our foreign policy.

anybody interested in dissecting the more brilliant parts of this movie? i’m not a fanatic (really only seen it 3 times) but perhaps there are other lonely fans with something to contribute…

I, for one, understood all the “subtle” satire that was going on, and I still thought it was a load of fetid dingo kidneys. I was rooting for the bugs from the start.

This is suited for IMHO, as it is a poll that calls for opinions as opposed to a General Question that can be definitively answered. Consider this your warning.

I watched the show a few times: Once on the big screen, a few other times on video with friends. I saw the metaphors in it, and I discussed them with some of my friends. I think everyone who was awake saw them. The movie is still junk, though. The plot is predictable, the entertainment value depends too much on visuals and dumb jokes, and the characters are wooden.

Because it wasn’t satire. The script played everything straight. It was no more a parody of war films than “Plan 9 from Outer Space” was a parody of horror films. Verhoeven doesn’t have a clue about what the word means, and the “satire” label seems tacked on in order to excuse a poorly written and directed movie.

I don’t see the parallel with the US policy in the Middle East. For example, we don’t regularly send millions of people over there to die because they are using WWI tactics against an overpowering enemy. It’s a movie about a war against giant bugs. Which is a shame, as the book was so much more. I don’t know of any other movie that disregards the book it was based on to such an extent.

What is this American imperialism crap I always hear about anyways?

I thought that Paul Verhoeven’s career was based on showing the American public just how stupid they really are. He just laughs in their faces, and people pay him money to do so. And what is wrong with that? We dopers can feel smug watching rednecks enjoy the drivel. Rednecks feel good as the highly disciplined rigidly militaristic good guys beat up on the highly disciplined rigidly militaristic bad guys. And the movie guys sit in a room counting their megabucks.

sigh Trooopers made no sense without the suits.

How this obvious fact escaped Verhoeven, I do not know.

The movie could have been a sly send-up of the novel, and I was tickled pink to see that they kept in all the weird political stuff.

But why the hell were the using ‘Nam-era technology (minus the freakin’ air support) against a foe that outmanned (er, out-bugged) and out-gunned them? Why?

It makes sense with the suits. No suits, no sense. See what I’m getting at here? Paul? Are you listening? Didn’t anybody tell you this before?

Well, if Verhoeven wanted to make a sly statement piece about American Imperialism, he may have been better served to develop his own vehicle instead of hijacking a story from one of the most beloved authors in the history of speculative fiction. I think a great deal of the backlash against Starship Troopers was predicated on the fact that it retained only the most superficial resemblance to the book itself.

Love it or hate it, Starship Troopers (novel) was a statement on the level of very few others in speculative fiction, particularly at that time. Starship Troopers (movie) is a bug hunt that hung just enough catchphrases and material from the novel to ride on its coattails.

Easy, Puppet Masters. Also written by Robert Heinlein. Noticing a trend?

Dammit, Ankh_Too, I was about to post that!

You are right of course, The Puppet Masters has the same problem as Starship Troopers: The filmmakers decided to drop everything challenging and interesting about the novel and go for the eye candy.

I started a MPSIMS thread about this almost a year ago, called something like, “Why can’t anyone make a movie out of a Heinlein novel and not have it suck a whole lot?”

Or something like that. I’m too tired to look it up. :smiley: If you recall, it was one of the infamous “Heinlein’s Timelines!” threads.

Starship Troopers… Haha, what a joke. Here, we see the american movie industry, in all of it’s hollywoodian splendor. The fact that an infinitesimal part of the Terran army (namely that bunker where all the important characters to the movie are) are able to eliminate enough of that alien species that the bodies pile up high enough for the other rampaging broodlings to walk on them and inside the bunker(and who ever came up with the idea of a bunker without a ceiling, in the middle of a desert? Plot device, I say) shows how much seriously hollywood takes us, the public. I mean, millitarily speaking, those 10-20 marines take out hundreds, maybe thousands of those aliens with basic weapons(no explosive devices, no mass destruction weapons, no good means of defense) before they are overrun, then they escape and that girl gets mortally wounded, and the movie goes on trying to make us feel bad about the fact that this ONE person is gonna die. They didn’t try to convey a sad feeling about the other marines that died, and they try to convey us the feeling of joy from having killed thousands of alien creatures. There sure is no joy in killing life forms, whatever they may be. In fact, from a strictly military POV, so little casualties for so much damage is totally incredible. It’s just plain stupid.

P.S.: Don’t get me wrong, I hate war, I hate the concept, and I certainly hate those who instigate it.

I read somewhere that “The Man Who Fell To Earth” was based on Stranger In A Strange Land (probably my favorite Heinlein). If that is the case then it wins for “Worst Thing Ever Done To a Living Author”. At least Puppet Masters had the father/son relationship right. While Troopers was shit w/o the suits and had so many problems with amalgam charachters that I had to re-read the book twice to figure out who was supposed to be who. And they never did play “Roger Young” at liftoff, bastards.

They have. **Destination Moon**, which was based on Rocketship Gallileo. There’s a section in Requiem where he discusses all the work that they did to make the movie conform as closely as possible to the scientific realities. And even though it was 18 years before the Apollo landings, they did an amazing job. Okay, so the acting and portrayal of characters is a little… earnest for our sensibilities, but it is still a good movie, taken for what it is.

I liked it, in a brainless way. Bugs get shot. Hehehe. I havent read the book, so i cant comment on what they changed that made it worse. But the book is always better than the movie (statement too general, i know). I saw it once and was really into it. A saw it again and it spoilt it for me- like the matrix. The dialog hurt me. Violence is funny though.

Ah, you’re talking about one of my favorites, Heinlein Books and Movies in which sdimbert askes the fateful question “How come nobody can make a decent movie out of a Heinlein novel?” Unfortunately with the message board conversion, the order of the posts is slightly screwed up. A thread on a related topic is Can Hollywood Make a Good SF Film?. Another thread inquires about the meaning of the title Starship Troopers.

[By the way, hi Podkayne. I love the handle (and the story as well}. It’s good to have another RAH fan aboard.]

Quite right, Podkayne. When I saw the trailers, I didn’t even bother going to the movie, because I knew that whatever it was, it wasn’t Heinlein. So, how’s Mars doing?

The problem is that Starship Troopers (the Movie) didn’t just satirize militarism, or toss out the content of the book to make another schlock movie:

What gets my dander up is that IMHO, the movie was a deliberate trashing of the novel itself! Heinlein’s novels reflected his political views, which might be characterized as conserative-libertarian. This viewpoint is anathema to modern political correctness, and so they basicly did an “ideological translation” of Heinlein’s theme for the book. STtM basicly says “Anyone who’d volunteer to be in the military is a sado-masochist Nazi”. It’s a little as if Hollywood redid [i}Alas Babylon* as a story about gun-nut survivalists.

Ranma wrote: I mean, militarily speaking, those 10-20 marines take out hundreds, maybe thousands of those aliens with basic weapons(no explosive devices, no mass destruction weapons, no good means of defense) before they are overrun…

Hmm, until I read this, I was skeptical that the movie did have a “message”, but what you wrote above (plus some other things) sounds an awful lot like the Vietnam war, where bureaucrats seem to have gone out of their way to put troops in deep doodoo without tall boots.

Perhaps it would make more sense to watch “Starship Troopers” immediately after watching “Hamburger Hill”.

I agree, though, that without the power suits it shouldn’t have been called “Starship Troopers”. Also … why wasn’t the theme song that wonderful song by Yes!? It, too, has virtually no connection to the novel!

Let’s hope the director leaves “The Forever War” alone.

I think I would have enjoyed the movie if it had been named “Bug Killers!” Then I would have enjoyed it as the mindless stupid film it was. “Ooh look! Bugs go splat!” But it carried the title of “Starship Troopers,” one of my favorite novels of all time. And as previous posters have pointed out, without the powered suits, its not Starship Troopers. How could they have left that out? A good portion of the book dealt with training to use the armor. Even the current attempt at creating a computer game of Starship Troopers doesn’t leave the suits out. The movie doesn’t follow the novel’s storyline at all. Why bother to name the movie after the book?

I don’t think that the movie was intended to satize anything more than a bad army recruitment video. But if you want to compare the movie to “American Imperialism” and the current Arab - Israeli crisis let’s try. In the movie the bugs throw a giant rock at Earth and kill millions. In real life Palestinan children are encouraged to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers for the political problems caused mostly by political hardliners fighting for control of territory. Somehow this is the fault of American Imperialism despite the Americans attempts at getting both sides to stop killing each other. So a jyhad is started to kill Americans and if the Americans strike back it just proves they are evil. I dunno, the movie didn’t cover this stuff very well.

When I saw this movie I thought it was a comedy. Rather violent for a comedy, but I kept laughing at it…

Sigh. I continue to hope that Virginia got a vast pile of money from those bloodsuckers in Hollywood.

For a fascinating look at how the process of moviemaking chews up great ideas, check out this highly recommended site in which screenwriter Terry Rossio, who worked on The Puppet Masters, details a descent into the maelstrom