Saturday, 21 June 2014

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

Three signs your sequel isn't likely to be much good:

  1. It's direct to video/DVD.  (aside: does anyone remember the days when such films tried to bill themselves as "exclusive" to video?  Oh how I laughed).
  2. It comes out with either unseemly haste, or after a suspiciously long gap, either of which is usually a sign of a desperate attempt to milk some money.
  3. None of your original cast return.
Now admittedly, Starship Troopers did itself no favours on point three by killing off Dina "I'll try to make any old drek watchable" Meyer.  But if you can't tempt Caspar van Dien to turn up - who was in Beastmaster 3 and the upcoming Sharktopus vs Mermantula - then something is almost certainly wrong.

We open with an attempt to re-create the over the top informercials of the first film, but without the same panache and glossy graphics.  Also, some big chunks of re-used footage from the first film intercut into the significantly cheaper looking new stuff.

Then we cut to a battle on an alien planet somewhere, where a group of troopers are surrounded by bugs.  Said troopers deliver heavy-handed exposition, mingled with equally heavy-handed cliches, to establish the cardboard stereotypes they'll play in this film: we have the Hapless Rookie, the Tough As Nails Commander, the No-Nonsense Sergeant, the Overcompensating Junior Officer, the Big Black Guy With An Equally Big Gun, and so on.

Anyway, Tough As Nails Commander orders No-Nonsense Sergeant to execute a breakout while he leads a last ditch defence to buy the rest of the unit time to get away.  The breakout's goal: an abandoned outpost that they may be able to defend long enough to be evacuated.

The group reaches the outpost, where Overcompensating Junior Officer stridently demands for his orders to be followed.  In the course of this, they discover a man locked into the facilities incinerator.  This is Captain Dax, who murdered the base's CO.  He'll be your Weary Hero Who Has Lost His Faith for the movie.

Anyway, the group weathers the bugs first attack due to the aid of Weary Hero Who Has Lost His Faith, but as he and Overcompensating Junior Officer really begin to clash, Tough As Nails Commander turns up with three new troopers, who just happened to stumble into his firefight and helped him escape.

Nobody in the movie is at all suspicious about this, of course.

Starship Troopers 2 is a pretty standard 'the enemy within' kind of film.  Its worst stumbles are when it tries to hit the gonzo notes of the first film: it just lacks the style and verve to do it.  The more traditional action/thriller stuff mostly works OK.  I give it points for having a strong female character who's actually strong (I don't think we're supposed to remember that the actress played a totally different character in the first film, though).

Anyway: this is not terrible, but it's also not especially memorable or exciting, and the ending is ... well, it's going for the same unsubtle satire Verhoeven does so well, but it falls short.

See it only if you're a hopeless tragic for this sort of schlock, like me.

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