Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Casper Van Dien, Jolene Blalock, Stephen Hogan
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Music Video, BD Live Content

Well, here we go again, they've released into the marketplace another mindless sequel to a Paul Verhoeven film. I'm lucky enough to have escaped seeing "Basic Instinct 2", "Hollow Man 2", "Total Recall 2070", "Starship Troopers 2," not to mention the two other "RoboCop" films. It seems the only sequel I may want to see based upon any of his past work would be "Showgirls 2", and I'm sure it will be greenlit someday. Of course, my lucky streak of avoiding these mostly direct to video travesties seems to have ended. I am here to tell you I have seen the newest "Starship Troopers" sequel, and it was actually much worse than I ever could have imagined. Of course I missed the second one, but seriously, I just reviewed the original "Starship Troopers", and the plot (very loosely and sarcastically based on a Robert Heinlein novel) is about as intentionally absurd as you could imagine. The new film "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" has come to Blu-ray, written and directed by Ed Neumeier, who actually wrote the original film, although this is his directorial feature film debut.

Casper Van Dien reprises his role of Johnny Rico from the first film, which no doubt helped rationalize the twenty million dollar budget. I was wondering what had happened with his career, but a little bit of research teaches me he has been doing a lot of television work, along with the occasional B movie.

Johnny Rico has been promoted to Colonel of the mobile infantry, and he has become famous for his legendary battles with the mutated bug-like aliens that are now more determined than ever on destroying the human race. Johnny Rico is back on the front lines, this time at a dark outpost on some distant planet. His outpost is visited by Sky Marshall Anoke (Stephen Hogan), a psychic crooner who has become famous throughout the universe for his songs of war propaganda (an awkward and unfunny song that is performed at the beginning of the film). An old friend has also dropped in, General Dix Hauser (Boris Kodjoe), but after a disagreement with some planetary farmers at the local bar, Johnny Rico is placed under arrest. While locked up the aliens wreak havoc on the outpost, and the famous Sky Marshall barely escapes with his life. Eventually he crash-lands on a planet, along with a handful of others. His disappearance is distorted by the powers that be and a false story of the Sky Marshalls assassination is fabricated that suggests that somehow Johnny Rico is implicated in the conspiracy. So, it's up to him to rescue the Sky Marshall in order to redeem his own name. As you can see the plot is like many space opera type films, and it shouldn't matter, sometimes a film such as this can make up for its shortcomings simply with great special effects or interesting performances, but like I mentioned, this film doesn't have such substance to fall back on.

What was a sarcastic if not subversive and campy look at a cheesy 50s era pulp science fiction novel in 1997 is something else entirely in 2008. Because of the poor directing and uncommonly repulsive writing, there isn't a hint of what many enjoyed from the first film

This is the director's first feature film, and it certainly shows, because this film is an incomprehensible mess from the beginning to the end. He fails to build convincing characters or string together an even remotely plausible plot. The camera work is amateurish at best, and the special effects are so laughably ineffective you have to see it for yourself to believe it. The aliens in particular look like they are from an outdated video game, and they have none of the subtle texture the first creatures did – and that was over 10 years ago. In fact the ships look completely unconvincing; the lighting is terrible, even the explosions look like something off a "USA Network" jingle. The special effects many times are the only reason to watch a film like this, but that is certainly not the case with this film. And unfortunately the Blu-ray version actually brings out these fatal flaws in a way that makes them impossible to swallow.

In fact, being such a misunderstood film "Starship Troopers" simply didn't need a sequel, and of course none of the other films mentioned did either, but what can you do? I mean, these days they aren't simply doing unnecessary sequels, they are actually completely remaking films that not only don't deserve to be remade, many shouldn't have even been made in the first place. These types of films, and the people who craft them, seem unable to come up with anything original, so in order to keep the money machine rolling they toss out dreadful sequels or remakes that unwitting filmgoers and renters seemingly can't get enough of. These types of films are dreamed up and executed from a business viewpoint and have no artistic merit at all and are completely empty experiences in themselves.

"Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" is just such a film, a complete mess from start to finish. The acting was so bad, and the original irony from the first film is now just an awkward mess of uncomfortably bad jokes. And the whole news media gimmick that Verhoeven uses in many of his films is copied here to stupid effect. The violence that was shocking and absurdly comedic in the first film is now simply pathetic gore for gore's sake. This film is so awful and pointless that it actually drags the first one down just by existing. If you are a fan of "Starship Troopers" you will want to stay far away from this poorly written, terribly acted straight to video release, it is a complete waste of time and money, and I'll never understand where that twenty million dollars went, because this film looks more like twenty thousand dollars.

As for the image quality, the video looks fine. This 1080p transfer is dare I say too good. In fact it reveals the budget limitations vividly, the poorly rendered and fake looking special effects look even worse in high definition, the cheap and tacky costume design takes on a whole new meaning with the added crispness the Blu-ray provides. This film is below even the worst Sci-Fi channel made for TV movie, and that says it all right there doesn't it? This film actually would look much better on VHS, then the limitations of the format would cover up some of the poor lighting and the generic set design.

The audio is featured in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and just like the picture quality, it does nothing but bring out how horribly recorded this movie is. Many times the characters are completely unintelligible, especially during the action scenes, when their voices become lost in the chaos. Something is wrong with the way this movie sounds, maybe it's because even the sound effects are unconvincing, but I'm sure the Dolby TrueHD track reveals even more layers of poor sound engineering than I'm sure I would have noticed with a standard definition disc. Perhaps they should have included a mono track or a silent-film piano track.

As for special features, we have two different commentary tracks. The first includes vocal observations from Ed Neumeier and the person responsible for the mediocre effects, a guy named Robert Skotak, we also have a producer named David Lancaster. These guys aren't really very entertaining to listen to, they should have had a few drinks and made fun of the film for the duration, then we would have something interesting. The director and cast commentary seems like a bit of overkill when you notice what a travesty the film turned out to be on every level. Nevertheless we have an enthusiastic and downright motivational track from the director and two cast members, Casper Van Dien and Jolene Blalock.

Three special features are presented in HD, 'Evolution' is a twelve minute making of featurette. 'Enlist: Marauder's Mobile Infantry' features 14 minutes of the cast and crew reminiscing about the joys of working with one another. 'It's A Good Day to Die' is a music video of the tacky and dreadfully unfunny musical sequence from Sky Marshall.

'Marauder Mode' is a feature that presents the film in a special format and plays clips and interviews and trivia while you watch the film. A pretty useful feature, if it was a different film. BD Live features include the useless but interesting 'Put Yourself In the Movie', which is similar to the same feature from the original "Starship Troopers" Blu-ray disc. BD Live also offers (for a limited time) downloadable content from Comic Con 2008 and ringtones.

This is one of the worst films I've ever seen in my life and certainly is my pick for worst of the year. The Blu-ray certainly brings out the glaring imperfections and the audio also is above the caliber of the material. That said, it is about as good an edition of this film as you could possibly expect, and the Blu-ray is actually technically impressive, and with an almost unreasonable amount of bonus features (which are not warranted). So, they did a commendable job on the technical end, but my advice is to stay far away from this film in any format. They should find the negative and bury it.