One of my great guilty pleasures is the first Starship Troopers film. I LOVE it. And the crazy thing is when I saw it like a lot of people I think, I absolutely hated it. But I think that first time I wasn't really taking the film for what it was. Starship Troopers works on a lot of levels, yes its a silly action movie about giant bugs, but its also a commentary on war, on society, on media, and on our very natures. I know its easy to lose that in the communal shower scenes, and the gallons of bug blood flying everywhere but there is a really quirky, tounge-in-cheek commentary going on throughout. I wouldn't say it reaches the introspectiveness of the book, which by everyones account including my own, is a genuine sci fi classic; but the film does have some meaning and I think value, if you know how to appreciate it.
Then came the cartoon. To this day one of the tightest most interesting cartoons ever made, Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles. I'm not even sure how to describe how great this show was, I HIGHLY recommend you check it out though. You can find it all on dvd, and I recommend the Paul Verhoeven approved master edition.
I've watched the first Starship Troopers film maybe 30 times. Its honestly one of my all time favorite films. The second film on the other hand I've only seen twice. It's not to say that its bad, but it was such a smaller budget and the story was so small, I enjoyed it definitely, but it didn't have anything new to say or show; and that's unfortunate.
Thankfully though Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is on the way, and this year at Wondercon I was lucky enough to attend the panel. In attnedance were Johnny Rico himself Casper Van Dien, and the lovely Jolene Blalock, of Enterprise fame, as well as the director, and writer of not just the Starship Troopers film but also RoboCop, Mr. Ed Neumeier. They began by screening the trailer for us which was handily just launched online today. Check it out.
Then they talked a bit about production and took questions from the audience. I have to say I was impressed with the look of the film, especially as compared to the second one. And I think everyone agrees that its great to have Casper Van Dien back. He was really a goofball during the Q&A, which somehow didn't surprise me... but it was fun. here are some of the points they covered.
They made the movie over a long period, almost 6 months, filmed in South Africa. This is the directorial debut of Ed Neumeier and he said he really enjoyed the process. He also said that the process of getting this film made was interesting. After the first film was a commercial success, but mix bag for critics the sequel became a tough sell to Sony; especially since regime changes in studio management left mostly people who didn't "get" the film in charge. They were given a pittance to make the second film, but once that actually made pretty decent money on dvd sales the studfio was forced to reassess their Starship Troopers strategy. When then came to Ed to ask if he wanted to make another one, they apparently told him that they wished they had invested more mney in the second film, and wanted to try to make it up with this third film. So while Marauder is not a huge budget film, and is scheduled to go directly to dvd as opposed to in theaters it is still expected to be bigger better and more bad ass than the previos installment.
The cast took a number of standard questions about what filming was like, how it was to work together and the like. Van Dien did mention that we can definitely expect to see the 'bounce' drops of the exo-suits from the book in this film. In fact I had forgotten, those suits are called Marauders, so they should play a big part in the film. There were three new types of bugs invented for this film. One of them you see in the trailer, the 'bombadier' bug which is basically a hand grenade, and a scorpion style bug which shoots energy blasts from it tail. The third type they chose to keep secret for now.
After that they showed us a bit more footage, which uniformly looked fun and bloody. I think they're really going to get back to the social commentary elements of the movie the "would you like to know more" sections and the like, becuase Neumeier mentioned how that was lacking the the second film.
Overall I have to say I was very happy with the panel. And it was great to see Casper Van Dien in person. If I have one complaint its that NPH isn't in this film. Although they did say they asked him to be in it, playing the Sky Marshall no less, but with his schedule for How I Met Your Mother he decided to pass. Regardless, I think this should be a pretty cool flick and I am definitely looking forward to it.
Starship Troopers: Marauder comes out on dvd July 15th, 2008.