Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Starship Troopers: Invasion

Let this be a warning to you all:  "Starship Troopers: Invasion" sucks.  I cannot recommend it to anybody for any reason.  So on that, I should just end the review there, it would the sensible thing to do, you probably never heard of this movie, and you weren't going to see it anyway.  I doubt many people will even read this since, again, its an obscure straight-to-DVD film.  But it sucks, still.

The Starship Troopers franchise has a long and storied history, one that is significantly more interesting than the current subject matter of this post.  "Starship Troopers", the novel, was written by one of the oddest science fiction authors of the 20th century (and that's saying a lot), Robert A. Heinlein.  Like most of his novels, its not a story as much as an extended essay or thought exercise in some possible future society.  Heinlein really isn't very consistent with his philosophy, he pretty swung in every direction from socialism to fascism, constantly pondering as to where a person should stand in his or her society.  For example, he once wrote a whole novel that was really nothing more than an extended argument for why incest isn't so bad, "Time Enough for Love".  Then there's at least two books about nudism.  I cannot recommend any of his books, even when they seem like they might have interesting topic mattes, they all inevitably descend into characters sitting in a room and talking endlessly in a Socratic dialog.  And "Starship Troopers" was Heinlein's brief foray into advanced militarism.  Essentially stating that the perfect society is Space Sparta, where you need to fight to get a vote.  They also fight giant bugs in space, but that's hardly relevant to the actual point.

"Starship Troopers" was not adapted into a movie until 1997, by Paul Verhoeven, a director insane and silly enough to match Heinlein.  Verhoeven hated the novel he was adapting, and thus turned his whole movie into a grand farce, mocking the militarism and quasi-fascism of the original novel and dressing Dougie Hauser in an SS uniform.  The movie "Starship Troopers" is both a guilty pleasure action fest B-movie of the highest quality, its endless fun, you got super models fighting bug aliens for an hour and half its great, and also a take-that to Heinlein.  You need to realize this movie is mocking itself, and like all Verhoeven movies, half the joy comes from that fact he never takes anything seriously.  It holds a special place in my heart as the first I ever saw that was R-rated and had nudity (I was six at the time).  I really recommend this movie.

Now, "Starship Troopers: Invasion" is the third sequel to that movie.  And it sucks.

Okay, the other two sequels weren't very good either.  The second one is terrible, skip it.  But in the third movie, the Federation finds JESUS.  Yes, its hilarious, that one is worth seeing too.  Neither came out to theaters, so don't feel too surprised to learn that "Starship Troopers" had any sequels at all, because they're pretty obscure.

"Invasion" is the fourth movie in the franchise, and unlike all the others, its a CG cartoon directed by Shinji Aramaki, who is a pretty legendary anime designer, specializing in powered armor.  He also directed the CG "Appleseed" movies which were decent and most recently the "Halo: Legends" movie, which I haven't seen and never will see.  "Invasion" ignores the entire satirical tone and instead goes for an incredibly dull straight action movie.  There's not one news feed, no great silly lines like "THE ONLY GOOD BUG IS A DEAD BUG!"  The action is boring, the characters are fantastically forgettable, and the plot drags endlessly.  But there is plenty of nudity though.  Shower scenes, walking around topless, a sex scene, you got the works.  So not only is the movie boring, it also makes me feel like I need to wash myself to remove the filth of it.

At the opening, we see a bunch of space marines in powered armor charging into a spaceship that's been filled with the Bugs.  Somehow.  They shoot a lot, and they say a bunch of things, but you can't see who they are because they're wearing helmets.  When they actually do take the helmets off, they're generic twenty-something ridiculously attractive anime people.  Everybody is buff, everybody is idolized for maximum sexuality, and they're all completely horribly disgustingly sickeningly murderous hideously grossly and endlessly BORING.  I dare you, I double-dog dare you, to remember anybody's name if you've seen this.  If they've been given one single defining trait, they're already doing above average, because most have no personality at all.  One chick is a slut and never wears a shirt, one guy is like tattoed, one guy has a metal arm, one guy is Black, another is religious, and there's this sniper chick who looks like Trinity from "The Matrix".  Trinity was my favorite character, since I always root for the sniper in war movies, so of course, she dies.  Great.

Oh, the acting is uniformly horrible, just in case you had any hope at all.

However, the big selling point here is that the main trio of characters from the original are back!  And supposedly they were going to be voice acted by their original actors, Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, and even - yes he in "Starship Troopers" - Neil Patrick Harris.  Well, somehow that fell through, so nobody is voiced by anybody you recognize.  And even though these are supposedly the same characters from the first movie, their digital cartoon versions look NOTHING like the actors.  Denise Richard's character has transformed into some completely different woman, I assume they couldn't get her face, so the new Carmen is all wrong.  NPH's new version though, looks like mounted corpse.  They could not have been more wrong with this.  If I were Neil Patrick Harris, I would be pissed.  The Casper Van Dien character does kinda look like the actor, only because the actor is really generic-looking, but as soon as you see the scars and the eyepatch the only thing you'll be thinking is SOLID SNAKE!


But before you get excited, Space Solid Snake is not the star of the movie.  Instead its this guy so monumentally bland and forgettable that they didn't bother giving him a name, instead he's just called "Hero".  If you thought the other characters were boring, you have seen nothing yet.  Hero is like an event horizon of dullness, his boring energy is strong enough to suck in light, so you can see nothing but your own eyes rolling into the back of your head.  I have never been so bored by a character in a movie, even if Channing Tatum was playing this guy, he would have more dynamism and personality.

The plot is basically, aliens have taken over a starship, ra ra ra, kill them all.  Then the spaceship crashes on Earth, and you'd think the movie would be over then, but no, it drags on for what feels like an additional three hours or so.  Shinji Aramaki's new armor designs are cool looking, but they seem to offer no protection at all from the alien fangs, so again, the action is amazingly bad.  This is the kind of movie that makes you start to count the freckles on your arm.  How many do I have?  Fifteen on the left, eight on the right.  Its only until the last twenty minutes that real giant robots come into play.  Even though this is a goddamn CG movie, its almost like they couldn't afford to show the robots.  So there's maybe two robot fights, which is disappointing since the robots have CHAINSAW HANDS.  Why are you not showing the most interesting action concept?  I don't know.  Maybe because Hero is so fucking exciting.

So again, I cannot recommend "Starship Troopers: Invasion" to anybody.  This is becoming a thing, actually.  Lately there have been lots of terrible CG movies crapped out to go direct to video to waste people's time.  You could watch this, or "Advent Children", or that "Resident Evil" movie that actually was in-canon with the games, or the CG "Tekken" movie, or "Halo: Legends", or take your pick, they all suck.  In fact, "Advent Children" is like Shakespeare compared to "Starship Troopers: Invasion".  Watch that instead.  "Advent Children Complete" isn't that bad either.

Well, this was a waste of time.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that the only Heinlein book that I've read is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and I enjoyed it enough to give it a second read a few years after the first time. I would recommend checking it out if you haven't already.