Ross Douthat makes the best point on a movie topic I’ve seen all month: Starship Troopers is terrible and stupid. It is a simple point, but a powerful one that needs to be made every once in a while. When I was in college, a friend of mine dragooned me into driving him and our friends to Richmond to go see this catastrophically bad movie. Between making numerous laps around the city thanks to poor directions and the frustrations of being stuck in Friday night traffic, I was positively thrilled to reach the theater after an exceedingly long drive and I was actually initially glad to see this wretched waste of two hours of my life. Of course, by the end of those two hours, my enthusiasm had dissipated completely.
It isn’t just that Robert Heilein’s vision of the militaristic future of humanity is boring (of course, no one has ever before imagined a future where people would be trapped in an oppressive state that ruled by war propaganda and media control), or that, as Mr. Douthat notes, the movie’s attempt to be clever falls flat and bores you still more, but that it is impossible to enjoy any movie that thinks the ideal casting for the nefarious propaganda bureaucrat in the film is Neil Patrick Harris. Doogie Howser as Goebbels? Please. Denise Richards as a front line shock trooper also requires a little too much willing suspension of disbelief.
What is sad is that this is not a bad movie in the Sam Raimi bad-in-order-to-be-funny genre of the Evil Dead movies (now those are great silly movies, made greater by Bruce Campbell’s slapstick and comic timing), but that it fails on every level. ST is not funny in spite of itself, and it is not intended to be funny, so it generally manages to push you more and more towards sympathising with the bugs in the hopes that they will put the main characters out of their–and our–misery. Did I mention that I didn’t like it?