_Starship Troopers_ is the greatest pro/anti-war film ever made. This is
something that no one seems to recognize considering that, when it was
released, most critics seemed to have been somewhat disturbed by the fact
that the `good guys' resembled Nazis and that was about as far as they
before blowing it off as just another shoot-em-up. No one has bothered to
re-assess the film since. Why has Starship Troopers with its profound
comments on war and human nature been relegated to the ranks of films like
_Rambo_ and _Universal Soldier_? One reason is that the satire is
subtle and another is that people are prejudiced against action films.
is probably justified though since the vast majority of them are pure
However, _Starship Troopers_ ruthlessly satirizes the genre while being
of the best of in its category, which is a feat that is quite brilliant.
There is so much about this film to analyze and it might even take a book
cover it all, so I will stick to only one thing here: the alien bugs,
are the enemy in the film.
The Earth is at war with these creatures. They're inhuman, vicious. This
graphically demonstrated through out the film but most notably via a
propaganda website that the movie presents to us as a futuristic version
`Why We Fight'. At one point, a cow is lead into a pen holding one of
giant insects, which quickly cleaves the cow in two. We are horrified!
insects truly are barbaric, evil! Look what it did to that cow! They must
destroyed! (Yet how many of us had steak before seeing this movie?) Then
website narrator proudly states that people on Earth are doing their part
the war effort as we watch a woman and her children dump Earth bugs on the
ground and stomp on them. These bugs are native to our planet. Like the
American-Japanese in WWII, why are they getting picked on? How are the
bug-stomping mother and her children any more humane and caring than the
repulsive alien insects?
The film is insanely violent. People are literally cut to pieces by the
smaller creatures and slowly, painfully melted by a plasma the larger
insects spray. However, the alien bugs fair no better. The people and cows
getting hacked up relentlessly in this film horrify us but we cheer as
machine rifles and grenades blow the giant insects apart. The body count
high on both sides. It is all literally and purposely utter, senseless
violence. But then at one point a psychic uses his powers to read one of
alien's emotions. He triumphantly yells, `It's afraid!' and a legion of
human warriors jubilantly cheer at this pronouncement. Who's barbaric
What is humanity? These bugs are clearly not `human' yet they are
intelligent, advanced, and most importantly they have feelings. If they
be afraid, can they not also be sad, happy, in love? These are questions
writer has left to us to ask with out leading us by the hand through what
could have been a much more preachy film.
Considering the fact that, in his book _Stranger in a Strange Land_,
A. Heinlein--who wrote the novel upon which Starship Troopers was
based--pointed out that there were millions of people already in America
before the Europeans came and ruthlessly slaughtered these `subhumans' on
their new property, it is safe to say that there is a lot more going on in
this film than a simple slug-fest. The dazzling special effects and heart
pounding action are all just a distraction--like all the noise in real
life--from the more important things said here. Even the trailer and
commercials for this movie were purposely misleading with Blur's
delightfully mindless `Song #3' blaring and the singer yelling `Whoo-hoo!'
as a stream of soldiers pour out of ships to go to battle. Every aspect of
the film was one gigantic, satirical slap in the face of humanity and no
Some may suggest that the satire was not intended but that would be
incredibly insulting to screenwriter Edward Neumeier because that's what
excels at. If you didn't catch the not so subtle satire in his earlier
screenplay for _Robocop_ then you're under the age of ten. Despite being
financially successful, _Starship Troopers_ is one of the most important,
yet overlooked, movies of the 1990s from an intellectual point of view.