|Star:||Richard Burgi, Sandrine Holt, Ed Lauter, Ed Quinn, Kelly Carlson|
|Cert / Year:||18 - R / 2004|
After the bugs destroyed Buenos Aries and after the brain bug was captured at Tango Urillia the Federation has taken the war against the bugs into the bug quarantine zone. In doing so a small group of marines are cut off on the dark side of an inhospitable planet. They take refuge in an abandoned outpost. Surrounded they must await rescue but at least they are safe thanks to the outposts formidable defenses, but maybe they might not be as safe as they think. Do you want to know more...
Following Paul Verhoeven's excellent Starship Troopers on a television budget was going to be all but impossible, but it must be said that Phil Tippett has had a darn good try. Maybe it was inevitable but the sense of scales has had to be reduced. No longer do we have fleets of spaceships, tanker bugs, plasma bugs and thousands of marines this by necessity has had to be a much smaller affair. I know this will disappoint some eye candy junkies out there but it would be unfair to judge a film on the number of special effects.
Phil Tippett is a legend in the special effects business but this is his first time as a director. It has to be said when dealing with the special effects he is superb the opening battle is really impressive. Cleverly the darkness of the planet has been used to reduce the visual range thus saving money on the computer effects and increasing the claustrophobic tension. Add to this the copious amount of bugs thrown at the dozen or so marines and the reduction of scale doesn't mean a reduction in excitement.
The film continues to be impressive when the mobile infantry reach the outpost. Battling through a storm they must hold off a massed bug assault before the defenses are activated, which is without doubt the highlight of the film. Up until this point the pace is non-stop once the defenses are up the film changes pace and style unfortunately this isn't for the better.
This is where things work less well as instead of massed gun battles we are given a more The Thing based enemy within scenario. This would have worked well enough but for two factors. The first is it doesn't really fit with the opening of the film, and two the strictly television cast aren't really up to the job bar one or two exceptions. It would be harsh to say that the film is poor because of this change in style it just doesn't live up to the rather impressive beginning (until near the end that is).
Phil Tippett works wonders with the effects bring back to life the bugs of the original, where he is less successful is in capturing the pseudo fascistic overtones of the original. The adverts are still there and the recruiting poster at the end is an ironic touch however he is just not as successful as Verhoeven was in making this believable and in the end it comes across as a little camp.
Starship Troopers 2 is a fine low budget sequel to the original. If you can live with the limited scale of this sequel then there are some impressive action to entertain you, but don't expect the initially pace to be maintained. The total replacement of the cast lesser known actors isn't the disaster you may expect (and the loss of Casper Van Dien as positive bonus) with the main actors do a good job especially Richard Burgi and Colleen Porch. The effects are still impressive and action is pace paced and well shot. So there is plenty of fun to be had, just don't expect the massed spaceship battles of the original.
Just when you thought it was safe to venture into space again, the 'bugs' are back! Paul Verhoeven's excellent 1997 Sci-Fi action adaptation of the classic novel by Robert A. Heinlein that was Starship Troopers, gets a sequel. Unfortunately, the sequel is nothing more than an expensive TV movie with precious little if really anything to do with either Heinlein's book or the original film. There are a couple of passing references to an event or two in the first film, but continuity isn't really a consideration here, but it feels like cheap and cheerful is as the whole affair wreaks of TV movie cheapness.
The thin plot and indeed most of the film is terribly predictable and owes itself to The Hidden, They Nest, Aliens and even Forbidden Planet is derived from in order to cobble this film together. Without wanting to give too much away, the perimeter 'shock' fences are straight out of Forbidden Planet, the whole platoon of Space marines marooned on a harsh, remote planet surrounded by hostiles, whilst trying to fortify a deserted / trashed out-post and repel aforementioned hostiles is Aliens without Sigourney Weaver, and as for the rest..... Lets just say I and most of you will have seen it all before in other films. The military psychic seems to be psychic when it suits him and is pretty useless even then, the disgraced, allegedly homicidal Captain excellently played by Richard Burgi is a typical hard ass, no nonsense battle hardened veteran who inevitably has to save the day. There is a coward or a pacifist you never really find out exactly which, not that you particularly care either and a hapless bunch of typical space marines basically.
In keeping with the low budget air of the piece, the film makes use of some 'stock footage' taken from the first film for a few scenes and obviously spent the bulk of the budget on the new 'bug' footage and some effect work, which can look pretty cool.... In a CGI horde kind of way. Effects are infrequent and what you get is mostly passable but some effects do look quite flat and dull in places. Some of the CGI for the 'new' bugs looks ok but you miss the really hard-hitting graphics of the first film, the space scenes, the big bugs and the big battles too. Bearing in mind that Phil Tippett was a creature designer for the first film it is interesting to see him take on the mantle of director here. I am an admirer of his effects work, but his direction isn't tight enough and the atmosphere is sacrificed, in addition to some of the pacing being slow at times. This is certainly not 'edge of your seat' Sci-Fi action but it does have one or two brief flashes of brilliance but it is most likely to prove disappointing for fans of the original.
The bulk of the performances are horridly wooden, blond bimbo Kelly Clarkson parades around for a few scenes devoid of clothing, which is bound to peak the interest of the more hormonally enraged viewers, but isn't particularly impressive if you aren't either into plastic chested women or have made it passed puberty. Brenda Strong sneaks in a performance as a tough Mobile Infantry sergeant, but fans of the original will remember her as Carmen's (Denise Richards') captain on the 'Roger Young'. Strong is one of the better things in the film along with well known actor Ed Lauter who plays the ineffective General. The rest of the cast are virtual unknowns or lesser TV actors / actresses and performing in this movie will probably ensure they stay that way.
Starship Troopers 2 features plenty of other peoples work regurgitated onto the screen in a disappointing sequel that lacks originality and depth. The original is undoubtedly the better film, admittedly it did have about ten times the budget of this film but even so, this production lacks a certain polish, which includes script, acting and some of the direction. Tippett does a fair job but really, I feel he had little to work with here so he makes the most of a bad deal. Occasional attempts to recreate the wry humour poked at the totalitarian utopian society of the first film don't quite hit the spot (Do you want to know more?) and overall the film is nowhere near as gruesome as the first, even with spawning, decapitated heads. Yet again a typical group of misfit space marines are marooned on a hostile / remote planet and placed in peril. At its worst this is a poor movie by my standards and at its best an average, flat, two dimensional, dumb, Sci-fi, actioner.
They're coming back to wipe us out!
|1.85:1 Anamorphic||A good image that handles the dark scenes well.|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Lots of big explosions.|
|Commentary by Phil Tippett|
|Two pretty interesting making-of featurettes|
|Short Photo gallery|
|A strong transfer and a reasonable selection of extras are pretty good for a made for television sequel.|