11 June 2010

I need to rewatch Starship Troopers

At the AV Club, Scott Tobias describes in detail how the blockbuster space opera undermines militarism with its own tropes. He also picks up on something I haven't, embarrassingly enough:
In the scheme of Starship Troopers, it’s important that the actors be pretty and vacuous, and their characters’ romantic dilemmas of the most banal variety imaginable. Hence the casting of Van Dien and Richards in the lead roles, instead of Hollywood stars with more history and substance, who might have torpedoed the film with any hint of self-awareness. (Neil Patrick Harris, as a brainy military intelligence officer who struts around arrogantly in a Gestapo-like trenchcoat, is the only young cast member who seems in on the joke.) ... Their shallow conflicts give the film shape and direction, but it’s obvious Verhoeven and Neumeier find them petty and stupid. (One bizarre example: When Van Dien comes to blows with his romantic rival, [director Paul] Verhoeven mutes this grand melodramatic moment by flooding the soundtrack with the dreamy Mazzy Star single “Fade Into You.”)
The propaganda videos interspersed through Troopers are where Verhoeven really tips his hand—they undercut the whiz-bang sci-fi action with moments that should make any thoughtful person squirm. This one uses some imagery that, as Tobias points out, is amazingly prescient for a film made in 1997. (Caution: contains depiction of human-on-alien violence, bitter irony, and Neil Patrick Harris.)

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