9.01.2012

STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION (2012) Review


Directed by: Shinji Aramaki
Starring (voices): Luci Christian, David Matranga, David Wald

The bugs are back and I couldn't be happier. Paul Verhoeven's original STARSHIP TROOPERS is undoubtedly a cult classic but unfortunately it's sequels were not so well received. I know from personal experience that the second was a steaming pile of crap and I've heard from many that the third is even worse. Surely the one thing we didn't need was yet another sequel, right? Wrong. STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION is so much better than the second film (probably the third too) and in some ways could even be considered superior to the original. It throws the satire of the original aside in favor of more explosions and bug stomping action, but it is still a very enjoyable film.

When the starship John. A. Warden - commandeered by psychic officer Carl Jenkins - suddenly goes dark and ceases communications, General Johnny Rico (Matranga) dispatches an experienced group of soldiers to make contact and hopefully bring the starship back. When the soldiers find and board the ship they stumble into a bloodbath. The entire crew is dead and it is evident that a bug infestation has taken place. They find a sole survivor in Carl Jenkins, who warns them not to turn the ship's power back on, but too late. When the ship is powered back up, a Queen which has taken up residence in the engine room, takes command of the ship. Seemingly thousands of warrior bugs are suddenly set loose on the ship and the starship itself is headed straight towards Earth. It's up to Major Henry 'Hero' Varro (Wald), Captain Carmen Ibanez (Christian) and the rest of the troopers to try and stop the ship from reaching their home planet.


With multiple STARSHIP TROOPERS media around (three movies, some games, an animated TV show etc.) we should probably talk about exactly where this latest instalment fits in. It's not really explained but it seems to be a direct sequel to the first film, with some familiar faces who are a little older and (in most cases) a little wiser.
Rico is now a General, Ibanez is Captain of her own ship and Carl Jenkins is the head of a special ESP unit.
But for the bulk of the film there are a bunch of fresh new faces taking centre stage, and of course they all have their own cute nicknames like Bugspray, Ice Blonde, Ratzass, Trig and so on. Their leader is the highly decorated 'Hero' who has recently been arrested by Jenkins for reasons unknown. Unfortunately most of these characters are pretty one-dimensional and they are all really just a gathering of tired old stereotypes.
But eventually Rico gets right into the action and soon our trio of old friends have a long awaited reunion.


Oh and by the way, did I mention that this is an animated film? That's probably an important thing to mention. But this is that photo realistic kind of animation like you would find in RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION and similar films. And it's actually done pretty damn well. The characters themselves look a little 'off' but as soon as they are wearing their big, bulky mechanical suits they look badass.
The bugs themselves look really good as well, and there are even some new ones here - ones which spit deadly blue plasma from their asses. But mostly they are made up of hundreds or thousands of those standard warrior type bugs. You know, those ones which can tear your head of in a half a second.


Sure the plot isn't very deep and neither are any of the characters, but the action sequences are fast paced and the detail in the CGI is better than I would have expected. There is plenty of bug killing action here and there is even quite a bit of blood and gore. A particularly good scene shows the troopers boarding the starship (which has a very eerie Dead Space vibe) where they are greeted by dismembered bodies floating around in the zero gravity. Nice.


Another drawback I found personally disappointing was the fact that even though Casper Van Dien is named as an executive producer, for some reason he didn't lend his voice to Johnny Rico. That would have been a nice touch for fans of the original. There are a few nods to Verhoeven's film though, and even the gratuitous female nudity and pervy shower shots are reminiscent of that first movie.
All in all STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION is pretty damn good. A big surprise for me. If you're a fan of the original then you should definitely see this.




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