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Starship Troopers (1997): Paul Verhoeven's brilliant blend of sci-fi, horror, and satire.

Jake Busey and Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers

The only good bug is a dead bug.

Paul Verhoeven is a straight-up mad genius, the kind we don’t get enough of anymore. Verhoeven was making $100 million darkly satirical sci-fi epics for the big movie houses and getting away with it for a good while.

After his time away from the genre with Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Verhoeven went back to his Robocop playbook to adapt Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers about alien bugs attacking Earth. I haven’t read the novel, but Verhoeven has clearly brought the vicious satire of militarism and fascism, which the book has been criticised for espousing.

Verhoeven creates a cocktail of teen soap opera, war movie, sci-fi and horror film painted in a thick veneer of tongue-in-cheek satire and humour, which reminds us not to take it too seriously. Like the hilarious TV ads and news broadcasts he used to great effect in Robocop, Verhoeven inserts the ‘Do You Want to Know More?’ clips, which serve to fill in the backstory and saves the audience from pages of dull exposition and hints at the fascistic governing body and the luring of youth into the military.

But he wisely makes sure the movie is still a rip-roaring, limb shredding, blood-spattered blast of action and gore. The body count in this thing is insane and bodies are torn asunder by Phil (Mad God) Tippet's arachnids, who still look great 25 years on. Some of the big bug FX is less convincing, but on the whole, the FX work holds up, especially the Spaceship action with the impressive use of model work and CG.

The lead actors are all kind of cheesy and serviceable, which is also kind of the point, but special mention to legendary badasses Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown for bringing the gruff. And pour one out for poor, doomed Dizz who stuck by her man, right till the bloody end.

Gimme 4 ‘Rico’s Roughnecks’ out of 5!

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