Dutch film director Paul Verhoeven moves past his Showgirls disaster and presents us with the
film adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's science-fiction classic novel of the human kind versus space
insects. School football hero Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), and his friends Carmen (Denise
Richards), Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) and Dizzy (Dina Meyer) have just graduated.
They have all signed for up for federal service, to serve in the armed forces which guarantees citizenship.
Carl works to further his scientific mind, Carmen plans to be a starship pilot while Johnny and Dizzy join
the mobile infantry. Johnny and Dizzy work through boot camp and meet up with a new friend Ace (Jake Busey)
and get their first taste of battle in an invasion of the Bug home world. Grossly underestimating the
ferocity of their foe, the human forces are nearly wiped out. Dizzy, Johnny and Ace are reassigned to
another unit, meeting up with a former school teacher who has rejoined the military and is the Lieutenant of the
squad and begin the long process of getting the upper hand in the war with the bugs.
After sitting on my shelf for several months, I finally broke down and dropped the DVD into the Panasonic DVD-A110,
selected the 5.1 soundtrack and pressed play. When the credits began their scroll 1 hour and 57 minutes later,
I wondered what had taken me so long to review this disc. While the story is a bit thin in parts - the film is
not overly long and held my interest. I was unimpressed by space ship effects. For a starship to be piloted by
an actual yoke assembly, you would think it should be a bit more nimble. Instead they lumbered in space as did
the "Battlestars" from the Universal film Battlestar Galactica - which we will all get to witness again
when Universal issues the title on DVD in June 1999. The performances are what one would expect from a space
The presentation here is excellent, with very good color control. I did not detect any compression errors when
viewed on the Panasonic DVD-A110 unit. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very dynamic and powerful. The
surrounds and sub-woofer tracks are very active throughout, with the overall soundtrack never sounding over-driven
or harsh. I watched the disc again on my PC-DVD system, this time listening to the commentary track with
director Paul Verhoeven. The commentary includes some interesting behind-the-scenes information, including
a blood curdling scream. When taken in context of the commentary, he is trying to describe how he motivated the
actors when they are fighting with 20 foot imaginary alien insects. Still, it comes as quite a start and is a
bit too loud. Of interesting note is the general tone of the commentary track. The original book by Robert
A. Heinlen was very heavy on character development and political views and attitudes. Interestingly, that
is not the movie that Verhoeven has made, but the commentary is filled with political attitudes on fascism.
Other than the commentary, all extra features of the title are on the B side of the DVD. Some of the
material is rather boring, I could have lived without the screen tests for example. I did find some of the
deleted scenes interesting. There is a bit more to the relationship between Johnny and Carmen in the cut scenes.
Their removal from the film is discussed during the commentary track. Had they been included in the film, I
would have agreed with most folks even louder that the wrong girl got killed. With these scenes in tact, it
cements in our minds that Carmen is a heartless creature that never had any real feelings for Johnny. The
documentary is one of the typical "made for cable" programs touting the film and trying to get you into the
theater. It is not one of those indepth looks at the making of the film we have become accustomed to through
titles in Universal's Signature Collection or Voyager's Criterion Collection.
I was slightly irritated by the dual sided nature of this title. I am not opposed to dual sided titles in general
when the film is widescreen on one side and standard (full frame or Pan & Scan) on the other. Frankly, I would
have expected a higher bit rate for the video, spreading the film to a 2nd layer and then including the extras as
part of the 2nd layer. As it is, the bitrate is too low for my tastes. However, I was unable to detect any
significant problems with the either the picture or the soundtrack.
A LaserDisc edition of Starship Troopers is also available which includes all elements of this DVD edition
except for the 16x9 enhanced transfer. The LaserDisc features a Dolby Surround soundtrack and a 5.1 channel Dolby
Digital soundtrack. The commentary track occupies the remaining analog audio track. A copy was not available for