Starship Troopers [Retro Viewing]

So, I’m going to apologize in advance, here. My viewing of Starship Troopers is long. Really long. Like, several pages more than I intended. Sorry. My bad. I actually almost went back and erased some parts, figuring I was talking way too much and nobody could possibly be this interested in Paul Verhoeven’s goofy space movie. But, then, I figured ‘Well, I am,’ and that’s really the point of these viewings, isn’t it? To go over something you love with a magnifying glass and pick apart why it’s so cool.

I mean, yes, this is a ’spaceship movie,’ and I know there are plenty of people—including a few I know of who read this site—who are starting to zone out because they don’t like ’spaceship movies.’ I would ask them, though, to give me the benefit of the doubt. Starship Troopers has wealth of stuff to see and listen to and laugh at once you can get past where the story takes place and start paying attention to what’s actually going on.

To give a little perspective on where I’m coming from when I say that this is a movie I love, let me explain that I consider Starship Troopers to be one of the most watchable science fiction movies of the last twenty-five years. I’m sure this will send the Blade Runner and 2001 crowd screaming and frothing at the mouth, but that’s how I roll, folks, and I write for the site; you don’t. Neener neener neener. It’s a movie that is often overlooked and underestimated, but I think Troopers is exciting and intelligent and subversive enough to stand toe to toe with any one of the A-listers that gets dragged out every few years for a ‘best of’ roll-call, but it’s also fun and funny enough that I’ll sit down with it over them any day of the week.

It has a lot of fun with the expectations of the audience when they walk into a war movie and it runs fast and far with the idea of portraying the bad guys as the good guys. There are a lot of little moments, too; shots or scenes or swatches of dialogue that deserve some appreciation. Plus it’s got bugs that shoot blue stuff out of their butts, and that’s always cool.

On a slightly different note, I just want to mention that I had a really great time re-watching Starship Troopers for the purpose a Mutant Viewing. I hadn’t seen it in a while and I really got to drill down my thoughts on what I find so enjoyable and even noticed a few new things, too. Rediscovering exactly why you appreciate something is a rare experience and this is one I had a ball with from start to finish. I hope you guys will have as much fun reading it.

-==AND NOW FOR OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION=–

0:37 Title Card: “Starship Troopers” in big black and white letters, then a triumphant anthem proclaiming “JOIN UP NOW!”

For those who don’t recall all the commotion when this film came out in 1997, it’s interesting to note (I think) that critics trashed it up and down the circuit for being hyper violent, stupidly one-dimensional, and startlingly fascist. Of course, this is yet another reason why they should be objects of pity and roundly ignored whenever possible. The movie is a propaganda piece, pure and simple. It’s going to go to all sorts of lengths to show our protagonists’ lifestyle is the best possible light. For example, we’re shown a diverse crowd of proud, attractive young men and women, all doing their part for their planet and who couldn’t smile wider if they were in a toothpaste commercial. Then, a little rascal in full infantry uniform makes everyone laugh like the last shot of a Scooby Doo cartoon.

0:59 We’re also treated to our first of many newsbreaks from The Television Of the Future, asking “Would you like to know more?” It’s a fun little device that lets them dump tons of exposition on us without sacrificing any credibility. Notice the very Nazi-ish eagle logo. Also, I particularly like the Enlist button on the right. Feeling patriotic and reckless? Sign up today!

1:20 The newsbreak fills us in on meteor bombardment by the bugs, the ‘interplanetary defense system,’ and the bug homeworld of Klendathu. I like the picture of the Milky Way and the arrow labeled “You Are Here.” Then, we’re taken (live!) to “Big K” and the first invasion of Klendathu. Our doughy reporter-on-the-scene has zero chance of survival.

1:51 “It’s an ugly planet! A bug planet! It’s a planet hostile to life as we… ARGHHH!” Nineteen seconds. Our intrepid war correspondent is diced into bite-size snackpacks and we get our first look at a big, ugly bug. Also, we see some marines, and—hey it’s Casper Van Dien! Is he getting stabbed in the groin and dragged off-camera? Isn’t he the hero?

2:46 One Year Earlier. Ah, so at least we know it’s all going to end well. Casper, as John Rico, is really showing us his action hero potential by drawing smoochy pictures of himself and Denise Richards in his Notebook Of the Future. Not that we weren’t all doing that in 1997, but he isn’t exactly proving himself worthy of top billing.

3:00 What he is demonstrating here, however, is an apparent death wish because he’s in a history class taught by Jean Rasczak, aka Michael Freakin Ironside. Even minus a left hand, everyone knows that, on the shortlist of people you don’t want piss off, Michael Ironside is probably in the top three. Especially when he’s dressed like Han Solo (which is the case here). Classmate Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyers) wags a finger at him and looks smoking hot.

3:10 “Let’s sum up. This year we explored the failure of democracy; how the social scientists brought our world to the brink of chaos. We talked about the veterans, how they took control and imposed the stability that has lasted for centuries.” I love his little speech about the difference between a Citizen and a Civilian. Michael Ironside would be the best history teacher ever. “When you vote, you’re exercising political authority. You’re using force! And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authority is derived.”

4:00 Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) shows herself to be a good little fascist and smirks about Hiroshima. Rico further cements his leading man status but admitting he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

5:30 After class, Rico and Carmen check out some seriously public test results. Carmen scores 97% on her math final and bubbles about enlisting into the Fleet. Rico scores 35% and his best friend Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) blows it up nice and large so everyone can point and laugh at him. Consider this the first of many instances where we see just how good Johnny’s skills are at picking friends that will tease him, annoy us, or generally prove themselves to be oily jerkweeds.

6:00 Carl continues his best friend duties by emasculating Rico, forcing him to admit he and Carmen haven’t “done it” yet. He exposits to us that Dizzy is ‘in waiting’ for him, but Rico says he only wants Carmen. Aww. It’s like World War 90210.

6:48 Science class. Rico dissects a bug with power tools. Carmen reminds us that this is a Paul VerHoeven film by vomiting on screen. We also see the science teacher, who, like Mr. Rasczak and nearly every other Citizen in the film, shows off some war wounds—in this case, a decided lack of eyes.

8:20 I like this scene. Back at home, Carl shows us he is psychic by taking a Playing Card Of The Future and trying to ’send’ the image to Rico, who guesses wrong every single time. “You know, statistically speaking, you should have accidentally guessed right by now.”

9:00 Carl talks a bit about psychic stuff and sends his pet ferret, Cyrano, to go make nice with his mother’s leg. Smarmy jerk.

9:45 The Big Game: Tigers (Us) Vs Giants (Them). Johnny runs the big, silver Football of the Future in for a touchdown in something akin to arena football, only with less padding and more gymnastics. The opposing team’s star player, Zander Barcalow, hits on Carmen then scores a touchdown to tie the game. Watch out, Johnny! He’s the same guy who stole Kelly Kapowski from Zack!

12:08 Rico finally does something other than be a pasty, bumbling, whiner and manages to score the winning touchdown, thus also securing the affections of his girlfriend for at least a few more scenes.

12:39 Johnny fights with parents before the senior dance about joining the military. They’d prefer he goes to Harvard. Dad makes fun of the service and Michael Ironside’s name, almost guaranteeing that he won’t make it to the closing credits. They try and buy him off with a trip to “the outer rings. Zegema Beach.” Johnny considers.

14:30 The Big Dance. Dizzy dances with Rico for a little bit before he blows her off to talk to Rasczak. Carl slimes his way up to her and does a little finger snap. Hilarious.

16:00 Rico whines to Mr. Rasczak that his parents don’t want him to join the service, Rasczak keeps giving blow off answers and trying to escape. Finally, he says , “Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom.” Then he walks away. I love it.

17:05 Johnny finds Carmen talking to Zander. It turns out he’s joining the Fleet, too. *DUN DUN DUNNNNN!* Rico pulls her away for the last dance, “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town,” by David Bowie Of The Future.

18:00 Johnny decides to enlist, and Carmen tells him her dad isn’t home tonight. See that, kids? Volunteer for two years of life-threatening military work and you will get in your girlfriend’s pants. Also, if you watch the wide shot, Dizzy is chewing gum while she dances. That cracks me up for some reason.

18:35 The next day. Johnny, Carmen, and Carl are sworn in and get assigned. Carmen enters flight school, Carl enters Military Intelligence, and Johnny gets Mobile Infantry. Johnny is congratulated by the clerk, who proclaims “Infantry made me the man I am today!” Johnny is not particularly inspired, given that the man is missing two legs and an arm.

19:32 Carmen, “Let’s make a vow. No matter what, we’ll always be friends.” I’ll put the over/under on this vow lasting at, let’s say, thirty minutes? Place your bets!

20:15 Dad yells at Johnny, Johnny storms out of the house. I like how the scene transitions by letting the camera catch the reflection of Johnny and Mom in the window instead of just jump cutting. Mom also calls Johnny’s bluff and asks him if he’s joining for a girl. But, mom! It’s a hot girl!

22:15 Johnny and Carmen say their goodbyes. Exeunt. End Act 1.

22:25 Newsbreak #2. Soldiers showing children how to shoot guns. A peek at the Justice System Of The Future. Ads for psychics. A story on slaughtered colonists. I like how the video of dead Mormons are shown in all their eviscerated glory but the cow getting killed is blurred out. Priorities Of The Future!

23:52 Johnny is at basic training, learning to be a badass. And who better to teach him than Drill Sergeant Zim aka Clancy Ever Loving Brown! Oh, yes.

24:30 Clancy beats a laughing cadet with a metal baton and makes him run laps.

25:20 Clancy judo flips a cadet and breaks his arm.

25:45 Dizzy shows up on a transfer to Johnny’s unit. Johnny looks nonplussed.

26:30 Clancy sweeps Dizzy to the ground and chokes her into unconsciousness. Johnny looks a little happier.

26:50 We meet Ace Levy, played by *sigh* Jake Busey. Since Johnny is now best-friendless and Ace is suitably creepy, the two of them get chummy.

28:00 Boot camp hijinx. Johnny and Dizzy are mad at each other. Johnny and Ace argue about who’s going to make squad leader. Dizzy knocks them both into a mudpit.

29:00 Clancy puts a knife through the meat of Ace’s hand. Yay!

29:10 [Daves] Shower Sceneeee…..[/Daves] We finally learn some background and a few other names. Broken Arm Guy is Breckenridge, a big dumb farmer. There’s a black girl that wants to go into politics but whose name I can’t understand now matter how many times I play it back. Shujumi, who looks more Hispanic than Asian but whatever, says he wanted to go to Harvard but Dad insisted on the infantry; I like the quick cut to Johnny. There’s a redhead who wants a license to have babies. Ace wants to be an officer; one of the shower rings frames his head like he’s in a noose. I try not to get my hopes up. Johnny plays wet blanket and refuses to answer, but Dizzy outs him anyway as doing it all for the nookie. Laughing Guy talks a lot but doesn’t get a name of his own.

31:00 Johnny sends Carmen a video letter which is actually rather funny and sweet (and inexplicably involves Ace playing a violin) before the camera pulls out and into Carmen’s dorm in flight school. She and her friends race to see who will pilot the shuttle, where one enthusiastic young extra exclaims “Not Ibanez! She’s crazy!” We get lots of sweeping space vistas and overacting by the people in the back seat. Denise Richards is making crazy eyes the entire time.

33:00 We find out Carmen (a) reports to someone who looks like Captain Janeway’s stunt double and (b) she gets to fly the big Star Destroyer-looking thing. Oh, and her flight trainer is—DUN DUN DUNNNNN!—Zander, the girlfriend thief! When he tells her he’s been stalking her throughout flight school, Carmen is clearly turned on.

36:00 The Starship Troopers version of warp drive. It’s spider-webby.

37:20: Wargames back at boot camp. Johnny’s pinned down; Dizzy saves his butt with some old football plays. He gets the win, the glory, and Squad Leader. Again. Dizzy gets shafted. I can’t help but see a trend developing.

38:15 Mail call. I like the extra (”Nyla”) who milks his one line and two seconds of screen time for everything he possibly can. “Oh! Here I am! Great! Yeah! My dad! Thanks!” Also, Carmen breaks up with Johnny. Johnny whines that he only joined up for her. Luckily, he has the loving caress of Jake Busey to ease the pain.

40:00 A live fire exercise with dozens, if not hundreds, of troops walking around in the background. Far be it from me to question Drill Sergeant Zim, but I have to wonder about the logic there.

41:24 Hey, blood and guts! I remember those! Big, dumb Breckenridge gets fragged by Politics Girl when Johnny tries to fix his helmet. Score another one for our hero.

42:11 Politics Girl washes out. On Clancy Brown’s recommendation, Rico gets 10 lashes. He passes out after six. Wimp.

45:14 Back on the Star Destroyer, Carmen and Zander make goo goo eyes at each other. Carmen goes off-course and Zander says something about her “licking his navs.” They do the “about-to-kiss-but-then—” thing, when Red Alert flashes and they find themselves headed up against an asteroid. Thanks to Zander and Carmen, communications are destroyed, so they can’t warn anyone else about a high-speed asteroid being fired from the arachnid quarantine zone. Somehow, in the eyes of Captain Janeway’s stunt double, this makes them heroes.

48:00 Back at boot, Johnny packs his bag. He calls his parents via AT&T Of The Future to patch things up. They agree to let him come home before the transmission is terminated due to… darkness.

51:16 I love this scene when everyone finds out that the Earth has been attacked and Buenos Aires has been wiped off of the map. Dizzy says, “Oh Johnny, that’s us.” Wait. Johnny, Dizzy, Carmen, and Carl are from Argentina? Really? They’re the whitest people in the movie! Even ethnicity aside, you’d think one of them would have a tan.

51:50 Clancy Brown is demanding he see action on the front lines and the brass insists he needs to stay on base as a drill instructor or else get himself busted down to Private. Rico runs back into the office and asks to be reinstated. He’s denied but Clancy saves the day by tearing up his contract. Johnny leaves with ‘Go get ‘em, Tiger!’ expression.

52:39 Newsbreak into Act 3. All about the tragedy Buenos Aires, a dead dog, the “The only good bug is dead bug!” guy, and a rousing speech about how humans must dominate the galaxy. We also see Carl, listed here as just ‘Military Scientist,’ showing us the best way to kill the arachnid warriors. There are also grade-schoolers stomping bugs on the playground while their teacher looks on laughing maniacally. Lastly, we see a familiarly doughy embedded reporter who mentions briefly that it might actually be our fault that we were attacked, but he’s quickly shouted down by Johnny and his friends.

56:00 Johnny and Carmen meet again on the space station and Carmen says “Johnny, it’s different now.” The vow lasted 37 minutes. Winnings can be collected at the ticket office.

56:30 Johnny and Zander meet again. Zander is a smarmy jerk, so Johnny clocks him. Finally, something heroic! That’s for Carmen! And that’s for Kelly! And that’s for Jo Reynolds on Melrose Place! And that’s for starring in “A Boyfriend For Christmas!”

57:31 The fight is broken up, and, despite being suplexed onto a table, Johnny’s hair hasn’t moved an inch. The boy has clearly got some ‘Mega Hold’-level gel in there.

57:53 Drunken tattoos. As part of his duties as Rico’s Giant Douchebag Best Friend, Ace pours whiskey on Johnny’s arm while the Tattoo Machine of the Future does it’s job. The four—Johnny, Ace, Dizzy, and Laughing Guy—scream and pose with their new tats, but, as only three of the four have names, Laughing Guy is pretty clearly on the fast track to the meat grinder. Poor Laughing Guy.

58:00 Go time. The infantry strap in and drop off, heading down towards ‘Big K’. I really like the different expressions on everyone’s faces while they wait to land.

1:00:18 The prerequisite mid-drop “Wooooooooo Hoooooooo!” courtesy of Shujumi.

1:02:05 Mobile Infantry is on the ground and charging. Our first look at ginormous bugs firing blue blobs of plasma out of their butts.

1:02:40 …which are promptly blown to smithereens by shoulder-mounted nuclear bombs.

1:03:00 Boo! Rico’s platoon encounters its first warrior bug, they take it down with only one casualty. Unfortunately, it’s six million bug brothers aren’t too happy about that and stampede towards them. Squad Leader Ace is too petrified to think, but Johnny steps up with the Patton-esque battle plan of “Kill them! Kill them all!”

1:04:04 Shujumi has a bit of a Rambo moment, but loses a leg for his trouble and is quickly devoured. Pregnancy girl freaks out and runs away but falls into a bughole and gets dragged offscreen.

1:05:09 Hey, it’s doughy reporter guy again! Hi, doughy reporter guy! Hi, beginning of the movie! Ooh. Bye, doughy reporter guy.

1:06:04 Laughing Guy bites it and we find out his name is… Kitten. Kitten? I guess I wouldn’t be announcing it either.

1:06:30 Johnny gets stabbed, although from this angle it’s more leg and less groin, which is good news for all men experiencing sympathy pains. He gets left behind during the retreat and starts firing his Shotgun of the Future at the encroaching nasties until…

1:06:58 Newsbreak! We’re informed 100,000 soldiers were killed in one hour on Klendathu and the Sky Marshall has stepped down. Some very Frank Miller-ish talking heads debate the existence of a “Brain Bug.” It reminds me a lot of VerHoeven’s TV personalities in Robocop. I’ll buy that for dollar!

1:09:00 Act 4 starts with a semi-Gone With the Wind shot of wounded soldiers as Carmen and Zander visit the infirmary post-attack. Klendathu Casualties: 308,563 (KIA: 305,615; Wounded: 2,949). 205,791 are MIA. Carmen looks up Johnny and we find out he has been killed in action.

Well, folks, I guess that’s it for Starship Troopers. Thanks so much for reading and… wait, what? Oh, there’s another scene.

1:09:53 Hey! It’s Johnny, floating in a Not A Bacta Tank. His leg wound is getting repaired by one of the machines that constructed LeeLoo in The Fifth Element. It’s both gross and cool. Dizzy and Ace run up to the glass laughing and show him the report the states he’s been killed in action. Ace calls Johnny ‘fish-boy.’ Heh. Dizzy kisses the glass before she leaves. Johnny smiles.

1:11:00 Johnny is back in action and he, Dizzy, and Ace have all been transferred to the ‘Roughnecks’, the squad that killed more bugs than anyone else on Big K. They also learn Zegema Beach, where Johnny would have been if he listened to his parents, has been wiped out. Jake calls the new lieutenant ‘a real nut-buster’ and gets punched in the face. Yay! It seems this mysterious lieutenant has saved the life of nearly everyone in the squad at some point, included rescuing Rico on Big K.

1:12:00 And who’re you gonna call to lead the baddest of the bad asses? Michael Ironside, of course, on loan from the history department.

Rasczak: “This is for you new people. I only have one rule. Everyone fights. No one quits. You don’t do your job, I’ll shoot you. You get me?”

Newbies: “We get you, sir!”

Rasczak: “Welcome to the Roughnecks.”

Lady Who Punched Ace: “Rasczak’s Roughnecks!”

Everyone: “Hooah!”

Awesome.

1:13:00 The fleet basically firebombs an entire planet. The Infantry is sent in to mop up survivors. Our heroes plus another Roughneck named Watkins find a bug and turn it to paste, Watkins gets a bit overenthusiastic.

1:16:05 We see our first gigantic, underground, napalm spewing bug. The lady who punched Ace gets her arm burnt off, but Johnny goes all Luke Skywalker on it and blows it up from the inside with a well-placed grenade. Of course, Luke Skywalker is practically the lovechild of James Dean and John Shaft compared with our boy Casper. Rasczak promotes him to corporal anyway, “until you’re dead or I find someone better.” I cross my fingers.

1:19:02 “I expect the best, and I give the best! Here’s the beer!” The post-battle party. Ace plays a classy, neon green Violin of the Future while Rico plays ball. Watkins compliments him with my favorite line of the movie: “Rico! You kill bugs good!”

1:19:45 Dizzy tries to get Johnny to dance, he stops her cold for no good reason. Michael Ironside advises him to stop being an ass and go for it.

1:20:41 Johnny and Dizzy slow dance while Ace leers at them and looks kind of like The Joker.

1:21:25 Boobies again! Rico and Dizzy hook up, and there’s a moment I really like where she gets her shirt stuck over her head. Then again, Dina Meyer could be fixing sewage pipes and I’d probably say I really enjoyed it. Anyway, just as things start to move outside their MPAA rating, Rasczak pops in and tells Johnny there’s been a distress call and the squad is moving out in ten minutes. He then surveys the situation and changes his mind. “Make that twenty minutes.”

1:23:53 Humping through Planet P, we see our first flying, green dragonfly/bat bug who picks off a sacrificial extra. Rasczak grabs a sniper rifle and shoots the imperiled extra before he is eaten alive. “I’d expect anyone in this unit to do the same for me!” Rico is now promoted to Sergeant. Also, it appears Watkins’ nickname is ‘Sugar.’ I feel okay not hearing the story behind that one.

1:25:21 The Roughnecks show up too late. Everyone at the distressed outpost it dead.

1:26:59 Dizzy finds a corpse with a hole in his head and missing his gray matter. “They sucked his brains out!” Everyone looks mildly repulsed.

1:28:12 One survivor is found, a general. He explains that there’s a bug who controls your mind and makes you do things, like order fake distress calls. The mission is a trap. The general freaks out; Ironside smacks him with his pimp hand.

1:29:15 Millions of bugs come swarming over the hillside. The Roughnecks take positions Alamo-style.

1:30:00 Bug corpses pile up around the perimeter; dragonfly/bat bugs swoop in and decapitate people. Johnny downs one flier and, typical for our hero, the dead body drops straight on the general, turning him into a smear on the deck. Ace laughs because he’s a jerk.

1:31:24 As Johnny radios for pickup, the bugs are using the mounting corpses as a ramp to get inside the compound. It’s neat.

1:33:01 The rescue ship arrives as ammo runs low, but not before a bughole opens up in the ground. Rasczak gets his legs eaten off and tells Rico “You know what to do!”

1:34:10 RIP Michael Ironside. Thanks, hero.

1:34:36 Dizzy celebrates killing a big, nasty napalm bug, but everything goes into slow motion, which is never a good thing in action movies. She takes four pincers in the chest and has to be dragged onto the escape ship.

1:36:03 A neat shot of the overrun compound as the ship takes off. Looks like a job for the Orkin Man.

1:36:44 Dizzy dies in Johnny’s arms. As much as a appreciate VerHoeven’s penchant for realistic violence in his movies, they really could’ve cleaned her up a bit. Bloody teeth? Ick.

1:37:20 Carmen finds out from Zander that Johnny is in the back. Did I mention that they were flying the rescue ship? No? Well, they are. Johnny and Carmen meet again and she tries to be nice, but Johnny basically tells her to go suck an egg. Way to grow a spine, kid!

1:38:00 Carmen looks sad, Zander looks annoyed.

1:38:30 No newsbreak, but our Act 5 starts here, with Dizzy’s funeral. Johnny gives a eulogy and tries to sound battle-hardened, but it comes off as more of a petulant child who really wanted a train set, mom! Dizzy’s coffin is ejected into space, presumably so she can crash on the Genesis planet and make it with Robin Curtis during Pon Farr.

1:39:45 Carl shows up again, looking very much like the Schutzstaffel. He says that they knew it was a trap but everyone is returning to Planet P because now they know that there is definitely a ‘Brain Bug’ on the planet. Johnny is promoted to be the Roughneck’s new Lieutenant because… well… I guess because he shot the old Lieutenant.

1:41:30 Johnny, Ace, and Sugar meet their new team, all of whom look about fourteen. Johnny jokes to Ace about being the ‘old men’ of the unit.

Rico: “This is for all you new people. I only have one rule. Everyone fights. No one quits. You don’t do your job, I’ll shoot you myself. You get me?”

Newbies: “We get you, sir!”

Rico: “Welcome to the Roughnecks.”

Sugar: “Rico’s Roughnecks!”

Everyone: “Hooah!”

As much as Rico is a giant dork and a hopeless tool, it’s still a cool moment.

1:42:45 Up in space above P, the Fleet dodges butt-plasma being launched from the surface. Just as Carmen and Zander are about to initiate ‘Star Drive’, their ship gets hit and breaks in two. It’s pretty cool.

1:44:18 Captain Janeway gets squashed by a blast door while trying to abandon ship.

1:45:20 Carmen and Zander make it to an escape pod. I notice neither of them are wearing their seatbelts (just thought I should mention it). Johnny and Ace watch it crashland inside Bug City.

1:48:00 Johnny hears Zander and Carmen get stabbed over the radio. He cancels the rescue party and trudges forward on his mission.

1:49:52 Johnny gets a funny feel Carmen is still alive. He, Ace, and Sugar split from their troops and go off-mission to go find her. For the record, our heroes have just left their entire squad without any leadership. Good work.

1:51:01 Cut back to Zander and Carmen, who are, indeed, still alive. They meet the brain bug, which looks kind of like a big marshmallow with ten eyes and a brain-sucking straw.

1:52:20 Speaking of brain-sucking: bye, Zander.

1:53:00 And speaking of just plain sucking: Hi, Johnny.

1:53:18 Johnny rescues Carmen and fends off the brain bug with a nuclear bomb. I haven’t mentioned them before, but I like the little helper bugs that carry the Brain around because it’s too fat to move on its own.

1:53:39 The Brain Bug retreats and the warrior bugs attack. Johnny follows in the long, proud tradition of action heroics by running away as fast as he can.

1:54:17 Sugar gets stabbed and takes the nuke from Johnny. He stays behind to buy time.

1:55:40 Johnny, Ace, and Carmen outrun the nuclear explosion (naturally) and head back to the surface to find that the Brain Bug has been captured by someone else. Yep. After watching this goon for two hours, he’s not even the hero of the story.

1:57:00 Johnny, Carmen, and Carl are reunited. Carl doesn’t quite admit he used his psychic powers to guide Johnny to Carmen, but comes close enough.

1:57:40 Of course, by this point you must be wondering who the real hero is. Who stole Johnny’s thunder and saved the day? Who else? Private Clancy Ever-Loving Brown. Oh, yes. Everyone cheers. All is right with the world.

1:58:10 Final newsbreak. Triumphant music plays are scientists in suits stick all sorts of horrible devices into the Brain Bug. We see a cool gun that blows up a mountain. We see Carmen has become a ship captain, God help us. Johnny and Ace have both been fully brainwashed into good little Nazi stormtroopers now, but Rico has almost mastered his tough guy face, so I guess that’s something of a victory. The movie proclaims: They’ll Keep Fighting… And They’ll Win!

1:59:11 The End. Roll credits.

So, that’s my long, long, LONG treatise on Starship Troopers and why it’s so awesome. Looking back over it, I guess I talked less about the Nazi imagery and the cool directorial choices Verhoeven made and more about the hilarious cast and hackneyed dialogue. I’m okay with that, though. Even if you’re not sold on Troopers as a sci-fi masterpiece, it certainly should’ve filled your daily quota for blood, breasts, Michael Ironside kicking ass, and Clancy Brown saving the human race. And, really, what more could you want out of 120 minutes?

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