Starship Troopers Revisited

The first installment predicted the War on Terror, the second has never been seen. Now the third Starship Troopers movie tackles the cultural theory behind an "infinite war." Take note.

Starship Troopers, in the year it came out, was one of most profound moviegoing disappointments of my life. I was 13, and a little idiot. I sat there blinking up at the screen, feeling dull and confused.

But it wasn't Neil Patrick Harris dressed up in Nazi SS gear that confused me--that I didn't even notice; what I couldn't get was why the acting and writing were so horrible. It felt like the Comic Sans of sci-fi action films--big and bold and very bland. My poor reading skills were outmatched. The genius of such a satiric juggernaut was just too much for my small, fat head to wrap itself around.

OK, so skip over Starship Troopers 2; as far as anyone knows, no one has ever seen it.

No enter Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. If Starship Troopers was a critique of the U.S. reaction to Sept. 11 (remarkable for a movie that came out in 1997, no?), then Marauder, a direct-to-video release written and directed by Ed Neumeier (who wrote the screenplay of the original), is a critique of the years following--of the continuing Iraq War and the stay-the-course mentality that dominated American politics until about, oh, November 2006.

Fair warning: There are about 45 minutes in this movie's midsection that probably skirt the limits of what even a diehard fan would endure. I suggest you take that time to eat three or four slices of pizza, guzzle a 20-ounce bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi, and by all means, talk through it. The first 10 minutes and the last 10 will make it all worth it.

Check out this clip from the film, in which the militaristic, previously atheistic government discovers (spoiler alert!) it can use religion to prolong its version of what Stan Goff coined, in an essay about the Bush Administration in 2002, "infinite war."

For ages 16 and up; some cultural theory recommended.

TMN editor Matt Ray Robison is a fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. He lives in Ann Arbor. More by Matt Ray Robison

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