Weird Wednesday: Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation

When you peal back all the elements and examine the concepts of the Aliens series and Starship Troopers is there a lot of differences. You have these army brats taking on an alien menace and it is all out survival for the human species. Basically it is “alien-war-games”.

What made the 1997 film “Starship Troopers” a lot better than most of the Alien films was the vision of director Paul Verhoeven. His ruthless direction, black humor and boundary crossing filmmaking made for a really fun film. There were so many things to be cherished about that film that it is amazing it took so long for a sequel.

In the sequel, we are introduced to a brand new squad of marines fighting the alien bugs on some far off planet. They are pinned down and it looks like they are done for until the squad discovers an abandoned outpost.

The squad huddles in the outpost for safety and they begin to explore and fix the internal workings of their new home. They discover a convict locked up in the outpost’s brig, he is Captain Dax (Richard Burgi). The crew is split on if they should release Dax to help fight the bugs eventually he is released and the marines welcome back General J.G. Shepherd (Ed Lauter).

But unbeknownst to the General and his squad, a sort of Trojan horse has entered the camp and fighting the bugs could be the least of their problems.

Directed by special effects visionary Phil Tippett, “Starship Troopers 2” is surprisingly bland for a sequel to a great sci-fi film. The film owes a lot to the sci-fi carnage that has preceded it. There are elements of John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, David Twohy’s “Pitch Black” and even the cult classic horror film “The Keep”. These elements are so evident its is hard not to see past their references.

Tippett’s direction is stagnant in places and in his outside sandstorm styled shots it almost gets confusing to who is who. The effects are great but Tippett is no director unlike fellow special effects guru Stan Winston who stepped behind the camera in the much underrated “Pumpkinhead”.

I did like the fact that the film did have an opening and ending very reminiscent of the Verhoeven film but other than that it never felt like this film was connected to the original.

I felt abandoned by a lot of Tippett’s actors as they delivered their roles. Interesting B-actors like Ed Lauter, Brenda Strong and Richard Burgi couldn’t really help the film as their roles really didn’t have any life.

Burgi makes a great stalwart hero but the evil side to him that he should have being a murderer is never fully explored. He should have been more Snake Plissken or Riddick than Han Solo. I wanted to know more about Dax.

Strong has always been a great secondary actress who has always delivered a sophisticated feminine approach to her material but here she is way against type as a rugged grunt and her performance is just distracting. Lauter plays his General as he has every other commanding officer I can remember.

Like every “after thought” sci-fi sequels, “Starship Troopers 2” has a lot of needless scenes usually involving naked women and a lot more gore. I would have liked to have seen the script be more like a war film than an eventual brainless gore-fest.

I guess what I am saying is that I loved the first film so much that I wanted more from this sequel. Even a lot of the episodes in the CGI-animated Starship Troopers series had more interesting plots.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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