Annention! This text was created with the purpose of praising Paul Verhoeven, and with him «Starship Troopers» — one of the best movies of all time.
In 1997, Paul Verhoeven released his «Starship Troopers». The movie about the confrontation between people and evil arachnids received such devastating criticism that anyone else would probably kill himself. Anyone but not Verhoeven. Perhaps the audience of the 90s wasn't ready for such a satire. Or maybe they just didn't want to notice it.
Frankness for frankness
You must have heard of the «Golden Raspberry» – it’s like an «AntiOscar», which Americans have been giving to their most insane movie projects for 37 years. As well as everyone involved in making these films can receive this award. Unlike the magnificent ceremony of the American Film Academy, the «Golden Raspberry» can hardly boast of mind-blowing outfits of its guests. The guests themselves, however, too — the winners of this award usually do not come for their plastic award. I wonder, why?
There are exceptions, though. For example: in ‘95 Paul Verhoeven directed the movie «Showgirls» — and a year later this film took a heap of «Golden Raspberries» — for the worst film, the worst script and the worst direction. You know what our guy did? He personally came for his award. And he became the first nominee in history to attend the award ceremony.
Actually, there’s not much to be surprised about. Verhoeven has been a rebel all his life, and film scandals have followed him from the very first movies. So, in 1973 he directed «Turkish Delight» with Rutger Hauer in the main role — and even quite liberal Europeans thought the picture is too frank because of the amount of bed scenes.
This most frankness is very well known to the public already from the “Hollywood period” of the Dutch director. A joint locker room and blood fountains in the first “RoboCop”, severed hands and Sharon Stone’s shot through the skull in “Total Recall” and yes… Sharon Stone. The famous “uncrossing and recrossing her legs” scene in “Basic Instinct” … And if you’re not breathing heavily right now, then, I don’t know, someone is probably lying here.
The hidden danger
After the scandalous but successful «Basic Instinct», everything went wrong. The “Showgirls” was a box-office bomb and got a devastating criticism. Or it would have been devastating for any director except Paul Verhoeven — and that's at least something. The Dutchman shrugged his shoulders, get his plastic statue and immediately started a new film.
Even today, there are some people who believe, that it would be better if he didn’t do it. The “Starship Troopers” just came out, as the director was already accused of fascist propaganda. Perhaps not a very thoughtful rebuke to a survivor of the Nazi occupation.
But let’s be clear and don’t make the audience full of idiots – It was really hard to understand Verhoeven. He and his screenwriter Edward Neumeier did everything to make us doubt who is good one and who is the bad one in this movie. The “Starship trooper” came out in 1997 – it was the time of pumped-up superheroes saving the whole world by themselves.
And there is such a character in Verhoeven’s film: it’s the main hero Johnny Rico, performed by Casper Van Dien. A classy Hollywood good-looking guy, who just graduated from high and immediately enlisted in the army against the will of his parents.
Look at this! A rebel, as we love. A fighter, as we love. A man, who is a winner of life, also as we love. And a girl, just like him, she became a pilot! What a couple, huh! But the truth is, that in the world of the “Starship trooper” all these circumstances are not considerate as something outstanding or heroic – and this is our first wake-up call. Verhoeven shows us a society of victorious militarism: You can become a citizen here only after serving in the army. Studies and everything else are just additions to the military service.
Soldiers, not lovers
And what is about sex? We know very well: if an action movie of the 90's has a couple of heroes of different sex, suitable for each other by age and they are not related — you can expect a bed scene from them. In addition, Paul Verhoeven is a well-known master of speculation of eroticism. Don’t hold your breath, the hell we are not getting sex. The “Starship trooper” is asexual — there is even a special episode, where men and women wash in a shared shower.
Perfect bodies, reproductive age – and complete absence of a libido. Because the army doesn’t need lovers, it needs soldiers.
True, at some point, Johnny Rico does get a piece of love. At the same time, the only bed scene in the whole movie was so clumsy and unsavory that the viewer has no doubts: this was an accident, and an impulse that shouldn’t be here. A few embarrassing minutes, and Verhoeven folds the episode and throws it in the trash. It’s time for war.
“Aliens” for cheap
All right, well, it’s an action movie, right? So, sex isn’t the main thing. We're just gonna cheer on these cute guys who are gonna kick some creepy arachnids. Attention! This is the moment, where the disturbing wake-up call in your head should turn into a nabbath: you’ve just decided which side to take. Well, of course, because Verhoeven and Neumeier led you to this decision as hard as they could.
Here is what’s going to happen next. You will start to note the numerous shortcomings of «Starship Troopers»: plot holes, insane acting and special effects, from which a healthy person can get sick. Никакой скидки на 90-е вы сделать не сможете:
You shouldn’t rely on the 90’s: 20 years ago, Hollywood has already made blockbusters, which in terms of visual representation are not ashamed to watch even now – and Paul Verhoeven’s movies do not exactly count. Battle scenes look like a mess, and bugs don’t scare you at all. It’s like cheap “Aliens”, but completely meaningless.
But what if this whole messy fight is just a joke? And then the director gives us one last chance: pseudo-documentary episodes of the news, well-known from “Robocop”. Oozing from painful hurrah patriotism and military pathos, these pieces evoke some vague memories. Something that you and I have seen before, and the context was the worst. Oh, right, here it is:
These scenes, which are full of painful jingoism and military pathos, evoke strange memories… Something, that we have already seen, and the context was the most horrible thing. Oh, right, here it is:
Holy Jesus, how did we not get it before?! Look at the form – it’s not the flirting with the aesthetics of Nazism anymore, it’s a direct reference to it. Young Neil Patrick Harris in his creepy cloak is like a reincarnation of a Third Reich officer. The uniforms of the marching marines are so spectacular and amazing — and completely meaningless in a battle on an unexplored territory. And most importantly, people in the “Starship troopers” have the same mind: they are the pride of the civilization, while the disgusting arachnids are just bugs without a rudimentary intelligence, also without the right to life. Two legs are good, four legs are bad.
Do you feel fooled, because you rooted for the wrong guys? But it’s embarrassing to admit it, right? Look, here is what you can do: next time, if “Startship troopers” get mentioned in a descent company, just shrug your shoulders and say something like “how can we seriously discuss this? A one-side picture for eleven-year-old science-fiction fans”. You just repeat the words of a film critic Roger Ebert. And it’s never a shame. In addition, you will avoid an unpleasant conversation about Fascism, Nazism and other crap.
But this seed of dissent will never leave you again. Verhoeven already pointed out what should have been obvious: It’s easy to turn a blind eye to military madness, because it’s always covered by patriotism. закрыть глаза на милитаристское безумие очень просто, ведь оно всегда прикрывается патриотизмом. Thoughtlessly to follow orders, without trying to figure out how to live on… Isn’t this happiness?