Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012)

There's a scene in the original Starship Troopers film where the entire platoon - men and women alike - hit the showers together.  Now obviously the motivation for this scene is the voyeuristic impulse.  But it also shows us something about these people, and the society in which they live.  None of the characters act like this is in any way an intimate, let alone sexual moment.  Their conversation entirely focuses on their reasons for joining the military, and none of the characters pay the slightest attention to anyone else's naked body.

Now I'm not suggesting that this societal insight was the real reason for the scene, or anything like that.  I'm 100% sure it was all about getting bosoms and bums on screen.  But it shows that the makers of that film understood that any scene - however puerile its main purpose - can be used to achieve multiple things at once.

And why am I talking about this?  Well, because it makes a telling contrast with this movie, the fourth in the franchise and the first (if one sets aside the Roughnecks TV series) to be animated.  There are three scenes of nudity in the first act of the film, and it's painfully obvious they exist solely to show off some CGI breasts.  The fact that a woman is nude (it is, of course, always a woman) is the entire focus of the scene, not just from the camera's perspective but also from that of the other characters.  This lack of deftness; the inability to do more than one thing with a scene, or to add nuance to it; is the greatest weakness of the work.  It makes for a static and unengaging narrative.

You know how when you were a kid you'd do those 'join the dots' pictures, and you'd end up with a dog or a clown or whatever but it would never look quite right because you'd just gone from point to point without an understanding of the proper shapes to use?  This film is kind of like that, as it works its way through its "yeah so we basically just did Aliens meets Event Horizon" plot.

This overall weakness is something of a shame, because there are some things the film does right.  Like Aliens, for instance, it does a pretty good job of setting up its secondary characters, so they are (in some cases at least) more than just interchangeable shreddies for the bugs to kill.  Some of the set design is pretty good too (the character designs didn't thrill me much, however).

Overall, this is probably only your time if you can never get enough Space Marine action.

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