When I originally saw this film, shortly after it came out, I rather enjoyed it. On viewing the DVD tonight, I had to struggle to explain why.
Because trust me, this is not a good movie. We've got obvious cheapness; especially the way that humans and CGI monsters so rarely interact in person. And we've got bad acting by the bucket load. As a leading lady, Jolene Blalock is not even a Denise Richards, let alone a Dina Meyer, while Cecile Breccia has clearly been cast for assets other than her thespian capabilities.
So what does the movie have to recommend it? Well, it brings back Caspar van Dien and his big square jaw. Man still can't act worth a damn, but that didn't hurt the first film any. And we've got some deliriously gonzo script moments. I mean sure, they're mostly utterly stupid, but some of them manage to pass through that to become sublimely stupid. I mean, we have a balding middle-aged guy as a sex symbol pop star who also happens to be head of the entire human military. I can get behind something as goofy as that. We also have the movie troopers finally getting something like the ordnance that have in Heinlein's novel, and I am enough of a nerd to get a kick out of that. And we have Amanda Donohoe, gleefully hamming it up in her role as a scheming backstabber in the military hierarchy. Most of all though, I think it was probably the fact that the movie subverts a couple of the usual tropes of military-themed fiction, and I'm a sucker for such subversions when they hang together reasonably well.
The plot? The war against the arachnids is ongoing. John Rico, now a Colonel, commands a military outpost on a frontline planet. His base is visited by Sky Marshal Anoke (the aformentioned pop star-cum-commander in chief) and everything goes to hell. The base is overrun, and while the Sky Marshal gets away, his ship is damaged and he ends up marooned on a planet far behind enemy lines. To make matters worse, powerful factions within the human military seem to have no interest in rescuing him. Can Rico get his neck out of the hangman's noose and save the day? (Spoiler: yes)
So yeah, it's a bad film, with a few elements that made me like it a lot more than it deserved, the first time I saw it. Elements like this: