Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Patrick Muldoon
The first time we saw Paul Verhoeven's action-drenched Starship Troopers, the sight of giant alien bugs being riddled with bullets as military fighters died by the dozens earned the instant thumbs-up. The battle scenes, of which there are many, pulsate with a distinct feeling of glee on Verhoeven's behalf; Starship Troopers is our chance to watch the controversial Dutch filmmaker indulge in war-time anarchy with the giddiness of a kid playing with G.I. Joe action figures.
But repeated viewings call the flick's none-too-subtle pro-war themes out, pushing Starship Troopers to a place of thought provocation that one would never expect from a movie starring Casper Van Dien, Neil Patrick Harris, and Denise Richards. Take out the extra-terrestrial arachnids and you've got the most elaborate armed forces recruitment video ever shot. The young, macho, and gorgeous cast members, decked out in military garb and high-fiving the notion of combat any chance they get, are on board simply to make the service seem more appealing—it's not like any of them acts particularly well.
Gonzo in spirit yet sly with its thematic stance, Starship Troopers is a fascinating piece of sci-fi that's unfairly been given a bad rap over the years. Blame it on Denise Richards.