Movie Review: Starship Troopers: Invasion
By Jayson Burns
It’s never fun being a fan of a series that constantly disappoints, as I’m sure most fans of the Starship Trooper films will confess. Now to handle the inevitable questions about the use of “film” in a plural sense, yes there have been direct-to-DVD sequels to the 1997 original and they were both terrible. Hero of the Federation (2004) lacked any of the charm or excitement from its predecessor, and Marauder (2012) overdid the social satire with a much poorer budget. Can the fourth film, Starship Troopers: Invasion, break this trend of bad movies with its switch to computer animation and the return of familiar characters? Bits of nostalgia aside, it cannot.
Taking place sometime after Marauder, with the war against the bug-like Arachnids still raging on, Invasion begins with Dr. Carl Jenkins (Justin Doran) commandeering Captain Carmen Ibanez’s (Luci Christian) ship for his hidden agenda. When the ship goes dark, Carmen and two units of the Mobile Infantry board the ship to investigate, only to find that it has been taken over by a supposedly captured “Queen Bug” who plans to steer the ship for Earth in order to infest it with her army. With some outside help from General Johnny Rico (David Matranga), the team
must find a way to stop the Queen while also uncovering the new experiments Carl had been up to.
Personally, I don’t understand why all of the sequels feel the need to take this galactic war and compact it into small skirmishes. The first movie focused on a full military campaign that occurred when the young Johnny Rico saw his friends die in battle after battle. With Invasion, characters get picked off so quickly I had to occasionally rewind and watch the scene again. I also found myself loudly asking the movie questions, like why one character managed to die not only silently (the Arachnids tear people to shreds), but to also assume a misleadingly crouched position. And did I mention the ship was also spiraling down towards a planet? And that there wasn’t a speck of blood on him? I got very frustrated. Still, I have to admit it was fun seeing Rico, Carmen and Carl back together.
Compared to the two films before it, the acting in Invasion was actually more than tolerable. Most of the characters kind of just fade into the background, so their voice actors didn’t have
much to work with, but the main cast managed to take their roles seriously and avoid cheesy deliveries. It’s very disappointing that Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris
didn’t return for their respective roles as Rico, Carmen and Carl, but their replacements make the change bearable enough.
The film’s animation is clearly the best thing it has going for it. While it has some quirks, like the occasionally off lip-syncing (it was initially for a Japanese audience), I enjoyed looking at Invasion while I was yelling at it. The Arachnids, the spaceships and the soldiers’ armor were all highly detailed, and the weapons didn’t look like the fake, plastic toys seen in the other installments (which is so ironic it’s sad). All in all, it would be a good idea to keep with Invasion’s design if there are going to be any more additions to the franchise.
Starship Troopers: Invasion, when looking past the animation and the nostalgia, is just as big a
disappointment as the rest of the sequels.