Sunday, October 7, 2018

CRACKER? Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

                “Starship Troopers:  Hero of the Federation” is the sequel to the classic Paul Verhoeven film.  Although Verhoeven had nothing to do with this movie, it was written by the same screenwriter, Edward Neumeier.  He went on to write and direct “Starship Troopers 3”.  The director of this film was Phil Tippett.  Tippett is a visual effects wizard who was responsible for the remarkable effects in the first film.  He was nominated for an Oscar for that movie.  He basically directed the battle scenes.  ST2 was his first attempt at directing and he might want to stick to effects.  He spent about $7 million on it and that was about one twentieth what Verhoeven spent on the original.  ST2 was shot in just 26 days.  It premiered on the Encore Action network and then went to DVD.

                The movie opens with a recruiting commercial to hearken back to the original.  I’m not sure that was a wise reminder.  However, this will be the last taste of the satirical bent of the earlier film.  ST3 is set after the war portrayed in the first.  The Federation is taking the war to the Arachnids, but this particular mission is SNAFU.  The invasion of a bug planet is not going well and a unit is surrounded on a hill.  General Shepherd (Ed Lauter) stays behind to hold off the hordes while the remnants of his command withdraws to an outpost.  The outpost looks like a haunted lighthouse straight out of Scooby Doo.  The members of this “lost command” are heterogeneous and include some female soldiers.  They are led by a psychic Lt. Pavlov Dill (Lawrence Monoson) whose personality matches his name.  He is shaky as a commander and something of a dick.  Fortunately for the survivability, the outpost houses a jailed war hero named Dax (Richard Burgi).  (The original idea for the movie was to have Sgt. Zim in this role, but Clancy Brown was not available.  Shame.)  Dax is the kind of malcontent that you want around if you are surrounded by marauding Indians at a stage coach station.  He assumes command and saves the day, at least for now.  Soon after the first onslaught, the General arrives having survived his suicidal rearguard action.  What?  This seems a bit fishy, or buggy in this case.  The outpost has a force field around it which allows for exposition and character development.  This is exactly what we do not want with our cheesy combat porn.  Speaking of which, if you are expecting the same level of mayhem as in the first film, you are na├»ve and disappointable.  ST2 plays more like a horror movie set in a haunted house.  It has shades of much better sci-fi movie from the aliens-take-over-our-bodies subgenre.  This means the exterior scenes concentrate on squashing the bugs with firepower and the interior scenes are aimed at claustrophobic dysfunctionality of “The Thing” ilk.  Both themes add up to your basic “who will survive?” scenario.

                ST2 had only one option to be memorable which was to embrace the campy nature of the first and just balls it up.  Ladle the molten cheese so thick that the audience would forget the inherent suckitude of the effort.  There is terrible and there is terrible with a flair.  This movie has no flair.  The acting is horrible, but just like everything else in the movie, not entertainingly horrible.  The dialogue is as cheesy as the acting.  “Come on, you apes.  Ya wanna live forever?” Surprisingly, the movie does not even try to top the combat of the original.  In the seven years between the Federation’s victory and this expansionist move the Arachnids have not evolved like virtually every other sequel monster.  These bugs are decidedly less bad-ass.  We must have crushed their morale.  To make up for the reduction of kickassery, Tippett has upped the ick factor.  If you like having your tummy turned, this is the movie for you.  Like most cheap horror movies.



  1. The BEST way to watch this one is with the commentary, where you can almost hear glasses clinking while the team discusses how low budget and low initiative the production was. Try it that way - it's MUCH better.

    1. Thanks, but that would mean I would have to watch it again.


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