This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Now, elderly readers of the site may remember Paul Verhoeven’s take on Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and I trust you don’t need us to explain how awesome it was. They may, if they are unfortunate enough, also remember the shambling travesty of Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, a film that quite clearly had no connection to the first apart from a hasty, poorly engineered retrofit after securing the license. And now there is a third one. Of it.
We can at least take some small comfort in the fact that ST3: Marauder takes place in the same universe as the first film with a superficially similar style and the return of Caspar Van Dien, assuming that’s a cause for celebration, that is. Johnny Rico is now quite the grizzled veteran in a war that shows no obvious signs of ending any time soon. The current Federation leader Sky Marshal Anoke (Stephen Hogan) has a natty sideline in chart topping propaganda songs as well as leading the not-so-free world where any dissenting voices are routinely silenced by the hangman’s noose.
The point of this film, such as it is, revolves around the loss of a planet that seems to represent the space war equivalent of the Maginot Line, for which Rico has been made the scapegoat. During the retreat the increasingly erratic Sky Marshal has only gone and done crashed on a remote planet along with a few hardy survivors including one of Rico’s old flames, the tough as nails Captain Lola Beck (Jolene Blalock). With news of the Sky Marshal’s absence covered up, it’s left to Rico and a small squad to climb aboard new stompy mech suits and save the day. Rooty toot toot.
I’ve heard hoakier setups, I suppose. Certainly it has more scope for the mix of ultraviolence and satire that the first served up compared to the unmitigated tedium of the second. It’s only real issue is that everything is handled with a mix of enthusiasm and cack-handedness that I suppose I should realistically have expected from a direct to video, sorry, direct to Blu-Ray, outing. For some reason I’d expected a bona fide movie experience. Imagine my disappointment.
Obvious issues first. The CG is uniformly dismal and seems to have been lifted directly from the recent Starship Troopers game. The story is barely adequate, and the acting is largely inadequate. In particular Van Dien is now hampered by having to attempt a third rate Michael Ironside impersonation, the net effect of which being to make me miss Michael Ironside. When your best performance in a film comes from someone who used to be a robot in Star Trek, you knows you gots problems.
It’s not entirely without redemption. The obsession with bringing religion into things was for a while becoming extraordinarily irritating before the ending’s rope-a-dope recasts it as a cynical social control mechanism, which makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. It at least bombs along well enough and doesn’t outstay its welcome, which counts for something, and its complete lack of pretension as anything other than a throwaway DTV timewaster is refreshingly honest.
That said, the fact that it’s a throwaway DTV timewaster is pretty much the main issue with it. This is likely to have no market whatsoever outside of people who remain fans of an, at the time of release, eleven year old film which wasn’t much more than a minor hit in the grand scheme of things in the first place. Well, those that haven’t been scared away by Starship Troopers 2, that is. While it’s not quite as bad as you might expect the third string outing to be, if you asking me if it’s worth spending time and money to see the answer is clearly no.