mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

January 29, 2013

Episode 99: Starship Troopers (1997)

Special Guests: Ed Neumeier & Paul M. Sammon

One of the most subversive films of the last twenty years,Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers tells the story of Robert Heinlein's controversial sci-fi novel.

We talk to screenwriter (who also wrote and directed Starship Troopers 3) and Paul M. Sammon (who wrote the behind the scenes book).

Would you like to know more?

Read An Intimate History of Killing
Read Paul Verhoeven's Jesus of Nazareth
Visit the Robert Heinlein Archives
Buy Paul M. Sammon's The Making of Starship Troopers
Buy Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers
Buy the Starship Troopers trilogy from BoulevardMovies.com
Hear more Ed Neumeier on our Robocop episode
Hear more of Paul M. Sammon on our Blade Runner episode

Listen/Download Now:
Bonus Interview with Greg Travis: Music
Starship Troopers Score - Basil Poledouris
"Starship Trooper" - Yes
Starship Troopers 2 Score - John Morgan & William T. Stromberg
Backdraft Score - Hans Zimmer
"I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper" - Sarah Brightman And Hot Gossip
"I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" - David Bowie



  1. The Foreign ViewerAug 8, 2014, 11:02:00 PM

    Say, guys, what's worse? When you have to record an episode again because the mic was off, or when you have to write a mile-long comment that took an hour to complete all over again because the browser misinterpreted "page up" as "return to previous page".

    Anyway, TAKE 2:

    Hi Mike & Rob,
    I am absolutely shocked (and quite confused) that there are no comments for this show.

    Seeing Verhoeven's Starship Troopers in 1997 (or for that matter, any of his movies) was one of the defining moments for me during the 90s when it comes to cinema. I've been a fan of the film from the first day I saw it and, as far as I'm concerned, you did the movie more than justice with this episode.

    However, there was always one thing about the movie that I never got and still don't get, at all. How is it possible that so many people misunderstood the satire on militarism?! I mean, the satire can not be more obvious. How can people take it so on the nose?

    This film is one of those rare pieces of art (yes, art) that keep the level of quality of its satire throughout. It never gets old, it never loses its edge and it never gets over the top, like a common farce would. The military propaganda commercials that call for recruitment are bone-chilling, yet simultaneously highly entertaining, from minute one and the feeling of excitement combined with constant eeriness stays with you until the final report about the victory. The film feeds both sides of our mind - the rational and the animalistic side. We have a war here that's unavoidable and we know that Rico is fighting for his teammates, his family and his planet, but on the other hand, he's technically also fighting for his government which may as well be torn from an alternate timeline where the Nazis did win the war, develop space-fairing technology and force militarism as the only religion. And the beautiful part is that, if you don't want to be bothered with all this introspection, there's always the fun bug-carnage, effective space soap opera, and "name the actor" minigame for the movie-nerds. :D

    As for the rest of the franchise, I haven't read the book, or seen the sequels yet (in my mind Verhoeven is the key creative element to this film, much more than the actors or even writers). On the other hand, I've seen a couple of episodes from the CGI show and some levels from the videogames, but most importantly, I saw the Japanese 1988 six-part 150-minutes-long OVA (animated) show based on the 1960 book. The OVA basically covers the same plot as the first part of the 1997 film.

    As far as I know, the OVA was never dubbed into English, nor officially translated for some reason, but there are several anime websites where the whole OVA can be seen streamed for free with unofficial, but very good, embedded English subtitles, and it's really easy to find the OVA through Google.

    Concluded bellow...

  2. The Foreign ViewerAug 8, 2014, 11:03:00 PM

    Continued from above...

    While the OVA is by no means bad (it's simply more of a Sci-Fi war drama, than a Sci-Fi action movie), it's nothing that has to be seen, either. On one hand, it adds new elements to the picture. For instance, there's much more focus on the characters and infantry's notable armored battle suits from the novel that were missing from the 1997 version are present and prominent in the OVA. On the other hand, there's a lot of things that are lacking. For example, there is absolutely no comment on militarism (the military and the government from the OVA, are just your usual average military and government). Furthermore, the aliens in the OVA are Cronenbergian pinkish fleshy monstrous deadly cunning squid-like creatures with tentacles that shoot devastating laser and gel from their mouths and have nothing to do with the iconic cannon fodder bugs from the 1997 movie. Finally, while the characters have significantly more time to develop, they are not particularly interesting, charismatic or memorable, unlike the characters from the 1997 movie. For instance, Rico in the OVA is a complete opposite from the one you see in the movie (he is insecure, common young man in the OVA) and Carmen is barely in the OVA.

    Another weird thing about the OVA is that while it has its share of thriller, action and carnage and even a poster of a nude (topless) woman, there's not a single drop of blood or gore in the whole OVA. There's a scene where aliens wreck havoc among helpless unarmed humans and limbs and body parts are flying all over the place, but there's not a single drop of blood or gore in the whole scene. Not that it ruins the scene, but it is odd.

    However, fans of the franchise (or just the 1997 movie) should see it at some point and compare the two for themselves.

    To wrap things up (for the second time), thanks for another great show and if you find the time, do watch the OVA, if only to see how more or less the same story can be told in a completely different way with a completely different tone and impression.

    Best Wishes. :)

    P.S. for the listeners,
    Comment on the shows guys, especially when they're this good!

    1. to TFV: Yeah, I'm surprised by how few comments some episodes get. I guess a lot of people "comment" by Liking episodes on Facebook or Twitter. I've always preferred to leave comments directly on the web sites that produced whatever I'm commenting on - I'm old fashioned that way.

      to the Booth: I'd never considered watching any of the sequels but you've sold me on Part 3! Just placed a hold, looking forward to watching it.