Written and Directed by Edward Neumeier, 2008
I’m sure there is someone out there who is a greater STARSHIP TROOPERS fan than I, who has a replica ‘Death From Above’ tattoo on their right bicep, but this clay tablet remains; before undergoing eye surgery, I chose STARSHIP TROOPERS to be the last film I potentially would ever see. I feel that evidence speaks for itself. My admiration for Verhoeven’s bender needs no further defense.
How quaint, then, that I would want to tear my laser enhanced eyes out while watching STARSHIP TROOPERS 3: MARAUDER. Nah, just kidding. STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 isn’t that bad. Oh, it is of course miles from good, maybe even a few feet away from bad, but it isn’t worthless. It is exactly what you would expect from a third generation, straight-to-DVD, fire sale budgeted sequel to an original film about might-be actors as space marines shooting landmark visual effects alien bugs. Only this time the marines are played by almost-was actors and the bugs are filled out by shouldn’t-have-bothered CGI.
Edward Neumeier, who may just have a ‘Death From Above’ tat on one arm and an ‘I’d buy that for a Dollar!’ on the other, attempts to reign in the franchise from the first sequel HERO OF THE FEDERATION and return it to original Space Sopa Opera standard while keeping much of the ambition that made said original such an epic. Attempts aren’t everything, as we all sorely know, and while the exertion does yield a few successes, the failures glare brighter than the seven lens flares found on the film’s DVD cover.
Which leads me to a tangent theory; a direct inverse relationship exists between a film’s quality and the number of lens flares found on its promotional artwork. Even seven lens flares couldn’t hold me back from watching STARSHIP TROOPERS 3, which I suppose may be the greatest endorsement I can give the film.
In this new future humans are still at war with the Arachnids for some reason, but that’s okay because the Federation has a new Sky Marshall that sings and dances (literally) and everyone loves him. And ‘ole Roughneck John Rico is still in the military, saving civilization with his still chiseled, but gravity hurting jaw line. The only familiar things to be found, other than the comparably satirical universe in which this shebang resides, are Casper Van Dien and the bugs with long beaks. No other returning actors, no super clever winks to the original. Well, that’s not true. The brain bug captured on Planet P returns, but at twice the size and with powers it didn’t have before. The lack of clever stands, though.
Aside from Dien, the only name is Jolene Blalock, who plays pilot Lola Beck, who is in a relationship with Dien’s pal Dix Hauser, whose name will survive long after ST3:M fades. There is an odd triangle between the three, which sometimes makes sense, but often doesn’t. Tacked on is the new Sky Marshall, whose role in the plot is obvious from the first time we see him, and a weird religious fervor that I somehow missed the introduction of. At one point in the movie everyone was talking about religion and I don’t know why.
Acting is, well, lips moving and sounds being made. Dien is Dien. I’m not one of Blalock’s fans from her “ENTERPRISE” days, so this is my first impression of her outside of a magazine spread. Granted she isn’t given much material to work with, but I remain a non-member of her fan club. Plus, her lips change color quite often during the same scene. Not her fault, but funny nonetheless.
The special effects are nothing of the sort. In the interest of full disclosure, I did watch this in HD. Transferring computer generated imagery as featureless as this to Blu-ray is putting lipstick and a dress on the Montauck Monster. Night often hides much of the polygon shortcomings, but is also the backdrop for many a insert shot. The action is routinely interrupted by logistical limitations (such as the kind solved in post-production by the aforementioned insert), but Neumeier does a satisfactory job at salvaging what hes got.
The satire is in full effect, but also narrowed with all the precision of a belly flop. It is almost as if Neumeier’s script for STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 just wants desperately to make fun of something regardless of accuracy. In the end the joke is on him, because none of the satire is consistent and occasionally borders on complete non-relevance.
It would be stupid to recommend MARAUDER to anyone who isn’t a diehard fan of the original film. I even have a hard time recommending it to people like me. Standing alone, the movie does very little to earn its keep (though the new brain bug is pretty cool), but nostalgia for the series and a vault of well intentions are enough to save the picture from disgrace. There is certainly no urgency to get on this. If it happens, it happens. Just roll with it. Someone needed a paycheck, maybe some day you’ll need something to watch and all will be kismet.