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Starship Troopers is a great action flick. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than eye-candy and I admire that honesty. It’s a great popcorn movie, with fantastic special effects, very much in the vein of Lost In Space (only better). If you just remember to leave your brain at the door on the way in you’ll really enjoy this film!

Like lambs to the slaughter...
The story is fairly simplistic (unlike the book on which the film is based) and concerns a group of teenagers who have just graduated from school and are wondering what to do with their lives. Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dein), the school’s all-star athlete is dating the most gorgeous girl in school, Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards). Unfortunately, Carmen has aspirations of joining the Federation’s mighty Starfleet as a pilot, something Johnny just doesn’t have the brains for. In an attempt to impress Carmen, Johnny signs up for the Mobile Infantry, the cannon fodder of the Federation’s armed forces. Soon after signing up the pair, along with countless other fresh-faced teens, are shipped off to their respective assignments. For Ibanez this means a cushy lunar base where she learns to pilot huge starships. For Rico it means the gruelling training schedule of the Mobile Infantry and one particularly brutal Drill Sergeant named Zim.  Not too far into their training war breaks out with a planet of giant alien insects, known to the people of Earth as the Arachnids. These bugs send a meteor to Earth, which completely obliterates Ibanez’s and Rico's home city of Buenos Aires. Fuelled by revenge, Johnny and the rest of his unit are sent to Klendathu, the Arachnid’s home world, to kick some serious bug butt. Unfortunately for them, that’s when the trouble really starts...

The film features a (then) largely unknown cast of actors, including Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey and Patrick Muldoon. Obviously a couple of these actors went on to bigger and better things (most notably Denise Richards), whereas some vanished into obscurity. The only ‘big’ name actor in the film is Michael Ironside, who is such a top bloke that he can actually get away with sounding cool whilst delivering the films cheesy dialogue! Make no mistake; Starship Troopers is groan inducing on occasion, the dialogue reaches absurd levels of cheese and the acting is adequate at best. Still, this doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable movie, thanks mostly to the fantastic CGI and Paul Verhoeven’s energetic direction. The CGI really is something special, far more convincing than a certain long-eared Gungan I could mention. The bugs all look suitably disgusting, especially the Brain bug. The warriors really look as if they could tear a person to pieces and there are often thousands of the creatures on the screen at the same time. Starship Troopers was a great technical achievement in its day.

This disc is a real beauty, especially when compared to the appalling UK Region 2 release (more of that later). The disc is dual-sided, but thankfully the film is housed on a single side of the disc (the UK disc is a dreaded "flipper"). The other side of the disc houses most of the special features.

Now that's some effective bug repellent!
Video wise this disc is great. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is very good, especially considering that this DVD has been around for quite some time now. It actually puts some newer releases to shame in terms of image quality. What’s more impressive is that this two hour long film is squeezed onto one side of a DVD-10. The DVD format shows up the astounding Arachnid effects brilliantly and everything is incredibly sharp. There are no visible artefacts or compression problems, and black levels and colour reproduction are also spot-on.

Sound comes in either Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround or 5.1 formats, the latter being the preferred choice (obviously). The mix is great; bugs scamper all around and screeches emanate from every speaker. The surrounds are used extensively during the film, with the crowd cheers during the football game and the roar of the starships being good examples. During the first invasion of the bug’s home planet you will swear you’re right in the middle of the action. The centre dialogue channel is also very clear above the noise of the furious war. The sound effects are worthy of a mention, the bug’s screeches and howls sound brilliant. When you combine the sound with the stunning CGI the Arachnids are really believable (far more believable than the human actors!)

There are a fair smattering of extra features, which include a theatrical trailer, some deleted scenes and a documentary. Also included on the disc are some of the actor’s screen tests, which is a novel addition. There is also a commentary track featuring Ed Neumeier and Paul Verhoeven, two men whose commentaries are always very enthusiastic to say the least. They have a great rapport, probably as they also collaborated on the film Robocop.

Urgh, it makes my skin crawl just to look at this...
As I said before, this is a very enjoyable, no-brainer action film. If you can suspend your disbelief (and for once at the acting not the special effects), then you will find this a great movie for a Friday or Saturday night. Buy it, invite some friends around, turn off the lights, crank up the volume, break out the pizza and beers and get totally carried away by the special effects. You will believe those bugs are real!

*Note – The R2 edition of Starship Troopers was previously released as an extra-less flipper. It has now been reissued and is almost identical to the R1 release in terms of content. This obviously makes it an attractive alternative if you don’t want the hassle of importing, although I can’t comment on picture quality etc.