Today’s Prayer Focus

Starship Troopers

Reviewed by: David Peterson

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi Alien War Action
130 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, Seth Gilliam, Patrick Muldoon, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell / Director: Paul Verhoeven / Released by: TriStar

The Federation needs you! Join up and kill some bugs!

“Starship Troopers” begins with what seems like a cheesy military recruiting commercial, but soon changes into an incredible feast of action and special effects.

Based in the not-so-distant future, the film centers around the lives of four young high school students who join the Federal Military. Though each of them joins for different reasons initially, they all become united in the common cause of protecting Earth and ridding the galaxy of the aggressive and warlike “bugs.”

The main character, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), joins the mobile infantry while his classmates pursue different careers as pilots and military intelligence specialists. During the incredibly rigorous and harsh boot camp (drill sergeants are allowed to break recruits bones, etc.!), an accident occurs killing one of the troops under Rico’s command. After enduring severe punishment for his negligence and error, Rico decides to leave the military altogether.

Just as he is preparing to leave the base, he receives word that the alien race has caused a tragedy on Earth that literally wiped Rico’s home city off the planet. As a result of the attack, the Federation declares war and launches an all out assault on the alien’s home planet. Rico reconsiders his decision to quit the service and becomes a dedicated infantryman.

Assuming that the aliens are just “stupid bugs” the Federation’s military assault is not well-planned or executed. In vastly underestimating the alien’s numbers, strategy, and general military capabilities, Earth’s forces suffer massive casualties and defeat.

After regrouping and reconsidering, the Federation determines a better plan of attack. This time they will seeks to capture one of the “smart bugs” that must be leading the aliens. By capturing one of these intelligent leaders, they hope to get to “know their foe” and mount a more successful offensive.

“Starship Troopers” is an action-packed, exciting film that should satisfy even the most demanding science fiction fan. The special effects are absolutely incredible and very believable. From the starships to the aliens themselves, all the effects are superbly executed.

Therein lies the rub. If you are the least bit squeamish, don’t see this film.

The realism of the effects combined with the nature of combat and violent warfare provide this movie with ample opportunities for gratuitous gross-outs! Keep in mind that the aliens do not use phasers or any such thing. They rely on skewering and dismembering their opponents. There are many, many scenes of decapitation, disemboweling, severing of limbs, etc. In addition to the intense “live” scenes, the viewer is shown numerous shots of carnage including dead and disfigured Federation troopers.

Of course, the bugs are also completely disgusting when killed, spraying gallons of green and orange ooze on anything or anyone that happens to be nearby.

The film also contains gratuitous scenes of male and female nudity (a shower scene at boot camp and one brief sex scene). The language was relatively mild, with very little cursing and no sexual innuendo.

This film is definitely not for children and even adults will want to give careful consideration of the violence and gore elements before making a decision to see “Starship Troopers”.

* PLEASE NOTE: After reading a number of the comments, especially those of Mr. Blaisdell, I felt it was necessary for me to briefly respond. I wish to sincerely apologize to Mr. Blaisdell (and anyone else) who may have been inadvertently “led astray” by my poor choice of words in describing the unacceptable nudity in this film. That was certainly not my intent. I fully agree that it was gratuitous and wrong. My use of the word “brief” in the review was a relative term and obviously not the best choice. I agree that this movie should be avoided. In my understanding, biblical purity seems to demand complete avoidance of a film with ANY nudity. If the length of the scene is the issue, then one could potentially watch a porno movie as long as it were viewed in brief segments not exceeding ones own self-imposed “length limits.” Of course this is ludicrous. Brief or not-so-brief, short or long, scenes of nudity should be unacceptable to any believer, especially those who struggle with such issues.

I also believe this film should be avoided for a number of other reasons. The excessive, explicit nature of the violence goes well beyond biblical principles and certainly defiles the mind of the viewer. It seems impossible to reconcile such things in light of passages such as Phil. 4:8, Luke 16:15, Prov. 4:23, etc.

In my effort to recap the plot and highlight the offensive elements, I apparently did not use strong enough exhortation. My desire to describe the film without defiling your consciences in the process has backfired. In the sense that I have caused some of you to stumble, I have sinned not only against you, but against the Lord as well. I ask your forgiveness. Again I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been unintentionally misinformed by my review.

David Peterson (Guest Reviewer)

Viewer Comments
I agree with most of the comments made about Starship Troopers, as well as the review. It is gory, and the nudity was unbelievable (coed showering?). I do have one observation that I haven’t seen addressed: From the coed showering to the sex scene—why is there no shyness in the showerroom, but shyness in the bedroom? I mean, if these people are so free with their bodies in the shower room, why does the girl hurry to cover up her body when the commander of the unit find the man and woman together? Probably just trivia, but I’d love to hear the reasoning behind this.
Jerome Bush, age 45
The thing that bothered me most about this movie; even more than all the violence and nudity (yes, I’m a Christian) was the fact that this future world was governed by an apparent totalitarian government and this seemed to be just fine with all the characters. Total submission to a totalitarian regime without question was perfectly acceptable and expected. The effects were great. The movie was a thriller. However, the violence and nudity were unnecessary. In one scene men and women in the military are showering together interacting like this is no big deal. (hope this isn’t a crystal ball view of our own military) The worst part, however, was the political overtones. In movies like Star Wars even though the theology was all wrong at least the virtues of freedom and standing against oppression and totalitarianism were cornerstones. Not so with this one. I hope this is just a bad joke and not someone’s mental rendition of the world of the BEAST.
Bob Clark, age 34
I realize that as a Christian it probably wasn’t a “best choice” movie to see. Although I must say that I tried to look at it in a Christian perspective. Call it weird or whatever, but I was actually able to use this movie in Sunday School class. I’m amazed, when my husband and I returned home from seeing the movie tears started to run down my face and I wondered why. The Lord opened my eyes and helped me to see it in a “WAR” aspect. In class we were talking about faith and how it comes in to play when we are faced with hard times. I told them that it was a non-Christian movie but that I wanted them to try to understand it from a Christian point of view. It’s hard when war comes around for those who are in it but for those of us who sit at home, it’s quite easy because we aren’t face to face with it. I asked them, “If you were in war like these young people were, who would you put your faith in?” I don’t watch movies like that but my husband and I thought that it was just an action pact movie. I guess the Lord wanted me to get something out of it. Life isn’t perfect and war WILL come and it really touched my heart because lots of people do get killed in wars and most of them don’t have Jesus in their hearts. We all have different comments on this movie and I agree with allot of the remarks but time can’t change what I’ve already seen so I must learn from it and choose to see the positive in this movie and try to apply it to the Bible.
B. B. Martinez
After seeing this movie, while watching kids giggle and other patrons stuff their face with various concessions as extreme gore was displayed on the screen, I had to ask myself two questions: “Why am I sitting through this?” and “How long will I take a break from movies?” Not since “Catch-22” which will forever leave unpleasant images in my mind, have I seen a movie that disturbed me so. I am writing to react to all the desensitizing of value for human life by the characters in the movie, and to the people who thought the special effects were awesome and somehow forgot about the hundred different ways people died in this movie. I measure special effects by the fact that new technological ground was broken, (example, the use of morphing in “Terminator 2”). This movie had no new ideas on the technology front (warp drive, high speed people movers, rocket propulsion, repeating rifles, “vulcan mind meld,” Independence Day type fighters (which by the way could have wipe out most of the bugs from the air), graphics depicting a black hole, and scenes of hundreds of battlestar cruisers orbiting a planet). The advertisements make you believe you are going to see the next big techno-marvel. Well, it got me into the theater hoping, and leaving dissappointed and grossed out. I’m praying hard that people don’t want a sequel, but with its gross (appropriate word) at the box office, its probably in the works with the cast of “Sunset Beach” or “Party of Five”.
Tom Messmore, age 47
Well, without knowing where to begin describing the many anti-Christian themes which pop up in this movie I will just mention the most disturbing. I just decided to see “Starship Troopers” after viewing several enticing special effects trailors and the movie delivers, but there is a price to pay: horror difficult to ignore. I grew up believing “Star Wars” was the most awesome special effects movie of all time and this led me to become a Sci-Fi fan. But there is a vast difference between “Star Wars” and “Starship Troopers” and that is the gruesome violence which should deserve an X rating. Where Director George Lucas created the Star Wars series with children in mind Director Paul Verhoeven must have created his movie specifically for the adult horror fan followers. The movie surpasses all other Sci-Fi films in the catagory of violence and I thought the movie “Aliens” was pretty horrific. “Starship Troopers” trys to minimize the violence with a comic book approach. This approach allows the movie to be viewable, but the violence cannot be ignored. The argument that if one sees enough gradual violence then that person becomes more desensitized to that very voilence is a valid argument. I remember when I first saw a severed head in a movie scene and I was stunned. “Starship Troopers” has severed heads and much much more. Right now I am just stunned that this movie did not receive an X rating. Well, there goes the neighborhood. ’Nuff said.
Woody Elliott, age 27
…Many of the other messages in the movie were horrible. I wasn’t prepared for the nudity and explicit (and un-married of course) sex scenes. It’s hard enough to keep our thought-life clean without Hollywood ambushing us with sights we didn’t come to see, and that don’t add anything to the story. Kids kissed full-mouth in public at school as a way of saying “Hi” to each other. The only married people in the movie were Rico’s parents, and they appeared as mental lightweights, self-centered and spineless. When one woman dies, she’s at peace about it because she’s had sex once with Rico. (In previous generations kids were taught that the meaning and purpose of life was to love God and enjoy him forever…) The movie tried to completely erase important differences between men and women (the only difference acknowleged was the “plumbing,” which key characters graphically used.)

…The movie had men and women showering together and there were no problems, and the guys hardly noticed! All of this betrays a denial of reality, and a lack of respect for the femininity and masculinity that God has given us. The director went out of his way to show us graphic gore as often as possible… Violence was glorified as a normal and good way of making a point or achieving goals.One character says, “violence has solved more problems than any other means.” Think of a world where everyone followed that advice…
Leo DePaul
Good review and a very entertaining film. I agree that children shouldn’t see it though. It’s strictly for 17-up. The nudity and sex were TOTALLY unnecessary. I would hate to think that my children would be showering coed together in the military. Those two elements took a lot away from the film. Once again. totally unnecessary. The violence should not have shocked anyone. Come on, people! You knew it was R-rated walking into the theatre! It’s like me walking into a liquor store complaining about the smell of Vodka and beer everywhere. DUH! Why get offended… you knew what to expect… and Jesus knows you knew too. So be real with yourselves and with Him.
Christopher M. Utley
On a scale of 0-5: Christian rating “0”—This film promotes evolution to the core in this movie’s “battle for our species.” Intelligence “0”. Don’t ya think they would have just nuked the planet from high orbit? Storyline “0”—Don’t ya think they would have sent tanks in before troops?' Special Effects “5”. This movie will suck out your brains. If you are unfortunate enough to see this movie remember the brain sucking scene and its analogy to yourself going to see the movie.
Cameron Fultz
I’ve just returned home from seing “Starship Troopers” with a Christian friend of mine. He and I have been discussing lately just what types of films believers should see (if any!) Having been sci-fi fans well before we came to know the Lord (20 and 19 years ago respectively) we went to see this film with that in mind. I went against my better judgment, however, and told him so, having read many reviews in the past few days. The problem with a film like this is that, on the one hand, people who have a technical interest (as we do) would desire to see it for that reason, while knowing, or suspecting (on the other hand) that it is perhaps NOT something a Christian should see. Therein lies the Devil’s temptation for many of us. As I watched all the violence and gore, nudity and sex that others have already adequately commented on here (hence I won’t), this Scripture constantly came to mind: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phillipians 4:8) It certainly seemed obvious to me that my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, would not consider “Starship Troopers” ANY of these things! Yes, the special effects were incredible! The bugs, battles, and spaceships. But it is JUST HERE (in this case, wanting to see the special effects) that Jesus is asking each of us to make a choice to DENY SELF (and NOT see such films) but follow Him instead…
David G. Lee, age 49
Well, to start off… I’ve been waiting to see this film since summer—and am throughly disappointed! The way the commercials made it look, this movie was an action-packed thriller that derived from something like “Independence Day,” but I soon realized how much “more” packed it was. From someone who doesn’t mind the violence and gore, this movie was extreme! I agree with a lot of comments made about the removal of most of the gore, it just seemed like the director tried to pack as much filth as he could into 2 hours of film. But that’s not the worse part. The nude scenes (two, as I recount) were totally unnecessary. It’s bad enough to make the movie as bloody as possible, but a co-ed shower scene? And the length of the scene was, really, inappropriate. It seemed like this movie was trying to satisfy both males and females with upper body shots of women and backside shots of men. And the sex scene during the middle of the war? The liutenent passing out beer before the battle? Hey guys… let’s party-party-party! Yeah, that’s a smart thing to do when you need to use your head against a devastating “bug” fleet coming to dismember you—maybe the beer is to numb the senses just before you explode in a million pieces. Sad to say, instead of mind-challenging action, which this movie was capable of doing, this movie seemed to insult our intelligence by catering to our lusts. And what’s even more sad, there were 5 yr old kids at the theater I was at watching this same film. Pray for America, people.
Dan Miller
[This comment was received prior to editing changes regarding the mentioned “brief nudity”]
Neither this review, nor the many previews I saw for this movie prepared me (or sufficiently warned me) for this film. To be sure, the special effects were awesome. Completely realistic. The story was also good. However, this reviewer is doing everyone an injustice when he says the film contains “brief scenes of male and female nudity”! Neither scene is brief, and the shower scene is decidedly LONG and VERY EXPLICIT! Mr. Peterson owes many people an apology (myself included) for leading us astray. For those who struggle with sexual purity, this is a movie to skip.
Tim Blaisdell
Obviously after seeing this film, one realizes at once this IS NOT A CHRISTIAN FILM! I am a teen and I did see it. Why? Well, I’m not exactly prone to influence when it comes to violence. The film, at first, appears to be another Hollywood flick made specifically for conflict addicted Americans (I mean come on! A bunch of high school kids fighting gargantuin bugs searching for the “Brain” Bug. Very intelligent…) but then it gives way to a deep meaning. Without out sounding pretentious, I believe it is a comedy of manners (A story that makes us laugh at our own faults in order to teach us something and change our bad behavior). You see it pokes fun at the early American, or Nazis propoganda that promotes youths to give away there lives for a seemingless stupid reason. Look at its comercial type feel. These youths, with a potential future, die, have friends die, go through horrible mental and physical tortures and yet the commericial still claims that CITIZENSHIP is the best possible thing in the entire world. Exactly what did these bugs do? Besides circumstantial evidence of a meteor, what did they do? Its us trying to harm a species for no reason and getting mad becuase they happen to fight back.
Justin Simien, age 14
While I did thoroughly enjoy “Starship Troopers”, I did feel that there were several problems with the film that weren’t mentioned in your film review. First, the acting was not very good. The characters weren’t developed at all, and they were very shallow. Second, the realism was marred by the fact that all of the major characters in the film never had a hair out of place and always seemed to look their best. Then there was the secondary plot points dealing with the fascist government that the hero’s are fighting to protect. It seemed as though they had planned to deal with this “big brother” aspect of the future, but then decided against it. This mixed and muddled message seemed to make the film a patriotic message supporting fascism. The final problem with “Starship Troopers” was the audience it was aimed for. The commercials made it seem as though it was the next “Power Rangers” movie, but the violence was not something that little kids should be watching. The marketing for this film was very wrong, although it did have a “90210” meets “Aliens” feel to it. But for all of these problems, I really did like the movie. It was the movie that “Independence Day” tried to be. It was a war movie set in outer space, and it was refreshing to see a movie where you couldn’t predict who was going to live and who was going to die. I also loved seeing the comraderie between the troops and the willingness they had to die for one another. “A greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his brothers.”
Josh Hornbeck, age 20
Being a sci-fi fan myself, I was really looking forward to watching this movie. The violence and gore did not upset me as much as the shower scene (males and females showering together?). I thought if this and the brief sex scene was left out, it would have made the movie so much better. I appreciated the fact that there was almost no bad language in the film. On top of that, the special effects are like no other movie ever made. They were incredible. I hope move movies are made with the kind of special effects as in this movie. It may very well bring the era of sci-fi to a whole new level. The movie followed the book (written in 1959 by Robert A Heinlein) quite closely. Except for the nude scenes and the fact that there were no powered armor. All in all, I really enjoyed the movie. However, if you are a bit sqeemish, stay at home, the gore is quite realistic looking.
Philip Smith
For all those folks who read Heinlein’s book and are curious how it adapted to the screen, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS MOVIE. For everyone who is a Christian dealing with the decision of whether to go see this movie because you liked “intense sci-fi” before Jesus saved you, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS MOVIE. I knew the movie would be “cheesy” in parts due to information from another reviewer; however, the first five minutes or so (plus frequent times throughout the rest of the movie) seem more like a parody or satire rather than an action/adventure. Once again Paul Verhoeven, the director, just can’t seem to put it all together. Most of the characters are superficial and static (especially when compared to the depth of the original book) and Verhoeven’s attempt to introduce a “love conflict” between Rico, Dizzy, and Carmen comes off bland and leaves one wondering why its even presented to the viewer. Although some of the lines and character interaction is humorous, for the most part the cliches ruin the actors' attempts to create serious characterization. As every reviewer is stating, the special effects are great and the encounters with the bugs very gruesome; nevertheless, they are ruined by the unrealistic scenes which follow. For example, swarms and hordes of bugs are attacking a “fort” which the main characters have located. Rico’s drill sergeant is mortally wounded and Rico has a chance to stop and help him and have an exchange of words whereas moments ago “bugs” were literally crawling and flying over the walls as they overran the compound. Furthermore, Carmen is impaled quite ferociously through the shoulder by the creatures, yet moments later puts her hands around the shoulders of her two friends, Rico and the character played by Neil Patrick Harris. Realistically, her arm should be useless for life and now she’s giving out group hugs! These are just a few examples of the plot flaws, poor characterization, and lack of detail the film possesses. If you “just have to see” this movie wait until it comes out on video; you’ll be glad you did. However, if you want to “see” a great version of Star ship Troopers read the book—and don’t forget to turn your imagination on; the powered battle suits in it are great!
Bull Brook
Director Paul Verhoeven, demonstrating that he has learned absolutely nothing from from the appallingly incompetent “Showgirls”, treats the audience to something even worse: “Beverly Hills 90210” meets “Alien”. After a very short beginning action sequence, the audience must suffer (and “suffer” is the right word) through over a seemingly endless hour of alleged character development that has “Aaron Spelling” written all over it. I say “alleged” since the impossibly pretty male lead, along with most of the rest of this nondescript cast, have no character to speak of. The only two players who are even remotely likeable, die in the film and even that is no great loss. The two leads do not act so much as pose for the camera, behaving as though they were models on an episode of MTV’s “House of Style”. Even the truly stunning special effects cannot rescue this shocking waste of money from the garbage heap toward which it inexorably slogs. “Idiotic” is too kind a pejorative, “awful” is an understatement. To call this miserable failure “exciting”, is to say that watching dust collect is an intellectually engaging exercise. Boring, trite, contrived… words simply fail to convey the truly offensive uselessness of this horrible, horrible movie.
Doug Sirman
This is a UFO-Unisex slasher movie and another monument to Touchstone a.k.a Disney’s attempt to jade the senses of the viewing public. I walked out after watching nudity, a cow being slaughterd by a “alien” bug, numerous bodies of humans dismembered with arms and legs torn off, people being cut in half by monsters, torture, and other offenses to the senses. And that was just the first half of the movie. Yuk!
Steven G. Hanson, age 49
“Starship Troopers” is a movie that you would be well advised to pass up. I went with some friends to see it last night… I was incredibly disappointed. The terrible acting compounded upon the non-existent plot is enough to justify avoiding this movie, but the real problem was the violence and nudity. The nudity was gratuitous and unnecessary. The violence was extremely gratuitous and WAY beyond gory. We get full camera sequences of the gory details of humans being dismembered, decapitated, gored, and sliced open about every 2 minutes of the movie. This was a truly disgusting movie.
My wife and I went expecting a sci-fi thriller in the line of “Alien” or “Star Wars”, but instead were treated to “Robot Jocks-Meet Freddy Crueger.” Along with the constant reminder that high school kids have the right to make their own decisions, and parents have no right to speak wisdom into their lives, the loss of life is of no consequence or sorrow. Only one out of the many main character deaths is even given a second thought. One heroines dying statement reflects her belief—“It was all O.K.” because, after all, she had sex with her man. Even If there was no love involved. Massive carnage and gratuitous nude scenes. Bad acting and a predictable, nonsensical plot. Questionable situations, with no plausible answers. (Didn’t the smart bug just get nuked? And when were they going to figure out they needed better, more powerful hand weapons?) I guess it’s just a movie. I give this move two thumbs down.
Paul Leon
A movie with a lot of potential, but is soon overwhelmed by gore, gore and more GORE! Eliminate 90% of the blood and guts and you have a pretty entertaining special effects extravaganza. As it now stands this movie gives new meaning to the phrase “gratuitous violence.” I personally don’t find dismembered bodies and guts (bug and human) flying everywhere very “entertaining”. And whatever you do take heed to the “R” rating, because it is richly deserved. This movie is really not for anyone unless they are training to be paramedics, or clean up crews at plane crashes. Far and away the most violent movie I have ever seen. Makes the combined violence in all the “Alien” movies seem like a Sunday picnic in comparision.
Russell Scott
Starship Troopers is full of eye candy simply because of the special visual effects required for this bug hunt. Still, we must consider the source and remember that even a bug war is hell, especially if Paul Verhoven directs it. …Several troubling messages are promoted through this film. The first is, follow your heart. The lead character, John Rico, defys his father to join the military because his girlfriend is joining, too. Second message: A wounded soldier is better dead than rescued. Several times in the film, soldiers are encouraged to kill their comrades as they are wounded by the bugs, subtly saying that death is better than living with any terrible injury. Third, this politically correct fighting force has a fully co-ed structure, where men and women bunk, train, and even shower together, and where the women are often tougher than the men… Verhoven’s camera lingers too long on the bodies and blood, almost lovingly, so you can see all the detail in visceral, living color. An extended dialogue scene is set in a co-ed shower—no big deal, right? Wrong. If sin distorts nakedness, and it does, this scene is a distortion you may want to avoid. I wish they’d set it in the lunch room—it wouldn’t have detracted from the story a bit. There’s also a perfectly gratuitous sex scene which underscores a message that sex outside of marriage is okay, especially if you both may die in battle in twenty minutes.
Carrie Rostollan, age 28
Thinking persons may want to consider reading Robert Heinlein’s book of the same name before seeing the movie. I did, and found it quite good. Heinlein may not be a Christian believer, but his philosophy is not counter to such belief. Interestingly, Heinlein’s book contains little action. Mostly, it’s a treatise on military life and human rights and responsibilities.
Richard Schmitz
…“Starship Troopers” is one of the worst films of the year, if not the decade. Following the parade of respectable SF film (“Contact”, “The Fifth Element”, “Gattica”, etc.) this rates zero. No wonder “Starship Trooper's” release date was held over. Even the least demanding science fiction fans will probably be smart enough to avoid this dribble. Others less fortuanate will be very dissappointed. Whatever you do, DON’T SEE THIS MOVIE. Robert Heinlein must be fuming from his grave. Verhoeven has reduced his classic juvenile novel to sheer stinking garbage.
James B Mastous
I want to thank all of those that wrote in and especially David Peterson (guest reviewer). I was looking forward to seein this movie but luckily a NON CHRISTIAN friend told me it had nudity and excessive gore so I decided to check your review of the movie along with comments of others and I am glad I did I only hope those that did not like it and the misleading trailer for the movie will write the company that made it to let them know how you feel as a customer. Thanks again!
-Rev. Roy A. Sekulich