Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation

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Rating: R

Starring:
Colleen Porch as Pvt. Lei Sahara
Richard Burgi as Captain Dax
Ed Lauter as Gen. J. G. Shepherd
Bill Brown as Pvt. Ottis Brick
Kelly Carlson as Pvt. Charlie Soda
Cy Carter as Pvt. Billie Otter
Sandrine Holt as Pvt. Jill Sandee
Robby C. King as Smiling Lieutenant
J.P. Manoux as T/Sgt. Ari Peck
Lawrence Monoson as Lt. Pavlov Dill
Drew Powell as Pvt. Kipper Tor
Ed Quinn as Pvt. Joe Griff
Jason-Shane Scott as Pvt. Duff Horton
Brenda Strong as Sgt. Dede Rake
Brian Tee as Cpl. Thom Kobe

Special Features:
Commentary by director, writer, and producer

“From Green Screen to Silver Screen” featurette

“Inside the Federation” featurette

Photo gallery

DVD-ROM link to Starship troopers PC game

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for Widescreen Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Stereo Surround Sound
English and French Subtitles
Running Time: 92 minutes

Synopsis:
This is the straight-to-video sequel to the 1997 cult film Starship Troopers.

Some years into the war with the bug aliens, the battle is not going well on one particular planet. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, a group of Mobile Infantry soldiers and General J. G. Shepherd are unable to get airlift off of the planet. Instead they retreat to a nearby abandoned outpost. There, they also discover a prisoner that has been left behind – Captain Dax. Unfortunately, Dax is the most experienced soldier among them and the only one who knows the defenses of the outpost. They must rely on him to survive. However, the bugs have a new secret weapon more terrifying and sinister than ever seen before. When it is unleashed upon our heroes, it will be up to them to stop it before it is spread to the rest of the human species. But can they do this before they are all picked off one by one?

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is rated R for violence, sexual content and brief language.

The Movie:
I was a big fan of the first Starship Troopers film. I’m also a big fan of Phil Tippett and his work in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Willow, Robocop, Dragonslayer, etc etc etc. So I was pretty eager to see his directorial debut in Starship Troopers 2. Unfortunately, the film was a major disappointment for me. The things that made the first film so entertaining were the political satire, the cool special effects, the biting sense of humor, and the shocking gore. About the only thing this sequel successfully captures to any degree is the gore.

The special effects are a bit of a mixed bag. The alien creatures that are shown in the film are pretty cool. The new bug aliens are realized with disgustingly amazing special effects. The warrior bug aliens also return in impressive numbers, but they only appear at the beginning and end of the film. They are also mainly shown in the dark and dust. While this helps cover up the lower budget on effects, they don’t compare to what was shown in the first film. (And oddly, clips of effects from the first film are inserted into this sequel.) Still, Tippett makes the movie look pretty good with a limited budget and schedule.

The real problem is the script. On the one hand, it tries too hard to imitate the first Starship Troopers. It starts out with the satirical war propaganda, but it’s never quite as biting or amusing as it was before. It also tries to imitate the shocks of the first film by impaling soldiers in new and creative ways, but it doesn’t quite work in the same way. It also tries repeatedly to be funny, but it never quite succeeds. But on the other hand, this sequel tries to depart from the first film so much so that it barely resembles a Starship Troopers film. The warrior bugs are barely in the movie and there’s very little all out war. The film also introduces a new bug that doesn’t resemble anything seen before. It’s to the point that it almost seems like a completely different series. It eventually degenerates from sci-fi horror to straight out horror as the soldiers begin killing each other. What the script ultimately delivers is a story that seems like it ripped off little bits of Aliens, Event Horizon, Pitch Black, etc and repackaged them as this sequel. I think they would have been more successful if they had gone back to the original Robert Heinlein novel and used whatever wasn’t covered in the first film. Remember the battle suits? More training scenes? The aliens’ world? I think the CGI animated series “Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” better captured the feel of the original film and novel than this sequel. And I don’t think the budget can be blamed for the lower quality.

Unfortunately, the cast isn’t really memorable or remarkable. Any B-movie actor could have filled these roles. I will say, though, that I liked the music by John W. Morgan and William T. Stromberg. They came up with a tune that was catchy and sounded appropriately military-like for Starship Troopers.

In the end, I think Starship Troopers 2 was a good idea that simply didn’t pan out. Some of the effects are good, but it doesn’t have a whole lot else to offer.

The Extras:
There are a few extras included on the DVD:

Commentary by director Phil Tippett, writer Ed Neumeier, and producer Jon Davison – In this commentary, the creators talk a lot about how they were constrained by budget and time. They made a good looking film with the limited resources they had to work with. They talk repeatedly about how they were trying to make this film the equivalent of the Korean War (if the first film was WWII), how it was also intended to be like a western or cavalry film, and how they did tricks here and there to make the picture work. It’s interesting from a technical standpoint and it becomes more and more apparent that they had a lot of good ideas that just didn’t work as well on the screen as in their imaginations.

“From Green Screen to Silver Screen” featurette – In this feature the effects supervisor takes a few of the key CG scenes and shows them broken down into their background plates, lighting, etc. You gain a greater appreciation for the work they put into it and the detail to realize them. If you like effects, you’ll be interested in this.

“Inside the Federation” featurette – This half hour feature is your standard “making of” video. Tippett talks about storyboarding the film, how they got it all organized, the sets, the cast, and more. But one of the more interesting parts of it is at the end when effects legend Ray Harryhausen visits the set. Everyone on the set seems justifiably star struck by him and it’s a highlight of the video. In the end, it seems like everyone had a good time making the film despite the short shooting time of 26 days.

The Bottom Line:
This film is really only for hard core effects fans and big fans of the first film. Everyone else will probably be more entertained by the original.

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