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Starship Troopers

Starring: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Genre: Action / Science Fiction
Year: 1997
Rating: 3 / 5

Starship Troopers, while not exactly high on anyone's list in term's cinematic brilliance, is some of the best sci-fi camp I have ever seen. As long as you do not come into this movie with grandiose expectations of plot, character development, and realistic levels of career advancement, this movie will be loads of fun. Featuring some stellar, Oscar-nominated special effects, Starship Troopers delivers where it promises: right smack in the heart of the action movie fan.

I will be the first to admit that, if you are the sort of person who has watched a fair amount of the Fox network, you will recognize a lot of these characters. Casper Van Dien, who plays hero Johnny Rico, has been a guest on Beverly Hills, 90210, as has Dina Meyer (Johnny Nmeumonic), who plays tough-as-nails sidekick Dizzy Flores. Patrick Muldoon, as the traditional male sparring buddy, is a cast-off from Melrose Place, and admittedly is somewhat ill-cast alongside all of these would-be high school graduates. Then there is Neil Patrick Harris, also known as Doogie Howser, a fellow classmate who has a bright future in military intelligence. The only truly recognizable screen figure is veteran Michael Ironside (V, Total Recall) as the savvy teacher who inspires these young troops.

The plot begins innocently enough, with a futuristic Earth preparing for battle with the Bugs, who hail from a far-off galaxy. The Bugs, who simply look like the overgrown insects with which we are familiar, are able to hurl asteroids at our planet, and thus, pose a very real threat. Our main characters - Johnny, Diz, Carmen, and Carl - are about to mobilize to defend our way of life, and are quickly shipped off to various regions of space to train for war. Johnny and Diz find themselves together in the Mobile Infantry, while Carmen feels that her future lies as a pilot. Carl, possessed of a brilliant mind and some form of thought-control, is destined for a secretive military position.

Once our crew is all settled in, the true fun begins, as the troops invade the Bugs' home planet. This is where the sci-fi wizards really get to shine, as a sea of swarming Bugs descends upon our world's best. The carnage is intense, on-screen and off-, but the sequences are well-made and (relatively) believable. I was quite impressed with the notion, usually foreign to movies, that the military actually learned something throughout the movie, rather than stubbornly leading everyone to speedy deaths. (Believe me, that has been done to death.) Of course, as a slight negative, our heroes, one year removed from high school, somehow find themselves running the military, which might give you pause for a minute.

All in all, one hell of a thrill ride! The action scenes occur often, featuring some very interesting Bug hybrids that are sure to leave the viewer intrigued. Inevitably, these friends, who have been scattered across the vast solar system, will find themselves reunited. They will be forced to use all of their skills to attempt to save the galaxy, but will it be enough? The conclusion may not be in doubt, but this movie sure offers a great time getting there.

Casper Van Dien..........Johnny Rico
Dina Meyer..........Dizzy Flores
Denise Richards..........Carmen Ibanez
Patrick Muldoon..........Zander Barcalow
Neil Patrick Harris..........Carl Jenkins
Jake Busey..........Ace Levy
Michael Ironside..........Jean Rasczak

Certification: R for violence, language, and nudity.
Running Time: 129 minutes.

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