Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: Hero of the Federation. Director: Phil Tippett. Screenplay by Ed Neumeier. Tristar DVD.

“No wonder we're losin' this war,” says a tough female officer (the aptly-named Brenda Strong, who is also the suicide/narrator on Desperate Housewives), “everyone's fuckin' instead of fightin'!” Well – not quite, although there are a couple of sexy scenes in this fairly unnecessary but somewhat entertaining direct-to-video sequel to Starship Troopers. The co-ed troops have taken the battle down to one of the insect planets where they are besieged by a humongous battalion of scorpion-like big bugs (the other bugs from the first film are not seen in the sequel). Most of the story takes place in an abandoned bunker where the troops rest and try to hold off the enemy. Unfortunately, smaller bugs have crawled through the mouths of some soldiers, infesting them and taking over their minds, making them quite literally “the enemy within.”The inauspicious opening looks like outtakes from the first movie, but the pace soon improves and the story holds the attention in a limited way. Ed Neumeier's screenplay recycles ideas from Mimic, The Hidden, Alien (as most modern horror/sci-fi movies do) and other films, but doesn't explore the psychological consequences of discovering that a trusted comrade or lover or friend is actually a “bug” in disguise. With the exception of a couple of framing sequences, the narrative is more “traditional” than in the first film, and most of the “satire” -- if that's what it was – has been dropped. Richard Burgi is stalwart as the hyper-macho former soldier who is released from captivity to aid in the fight against the bugs. It's a pleasure to see veteran actor Ed Lauter as General Shepherd, who succumbs to the nasty internal bugs and becomes one of the enemy. In fact, virtually all of the actors in this film play with absolute conviction and veracity, which makes you wish they had been cast in a much better movie. Although there are plenty of gruesome and slimy, nauseating sequences, this is not quite as disturbingly gory as the original. The special effects are quite good, which is no surprise as director Phil Tippett is also an FX expert. But everything, including those FX and gore scenes, look like moments you've seen many, many times before.

Verdict: Retread, recycled, repeated - but has its good points. **.

NOTE: Read about the original Starship Troopers and many other monster movies in William Schoell's book Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies.

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