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The DoubleHeader You’ve All Been Waiting For! Vern Reviews STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 And ROGUE!!

I’ve been sort of looking forward to this new STARSHIP TROOPERS, and if you got a problem with that too bad because I’ve gotten enough “are you gonna review Starship Troopers 3?” emails to know that we can take you. Ed Neumeier takes over as director this time, which means the satirical tone remains since this is the guy who wrote all three STARSHIP TROOPERS as well as ROBOCOP. And, uh, ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID. I didn’t know that, I just found that out on IMDB. Hmmm. I had not considered watching that one. This changes everything. This could be the big one.

If you saw STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION you may or may not remember that it was pretty different from the first one. They scaled it down for DTV, making it into mostly a one-location siege kind of story and incorporating smaller bugs that implant themselves in people’s brains or something. The good part is it was directed by the effects legend Phil Tippett so it ended up having the best effects I’ve seen in a DTV movie.

Starship Troopers 3: MarauderFor part 3 they got somebody else doing the effects (pretty crappy) but the story is much more in line with the first one. It expands on the mythology and themes of the STARSHIP TROOPERS universe in a somewhat charmingly cheap-ass DTV sort of way. A lightly grizzled Casper Van Dien returns as Johnny Rico “the hero of Planet P,” now a colonel and still following orders to bravely kill the shit out of swarms of giant alien bugs who threaten freedom and liberty and all that. The war goes on and has escalated a little bit because there is a new piece of bug technology, a sort of bug grenade that’s like a huge pill bug that gets tossed into your trench, opens up and shoots out electricity. I like that. Not that much of a threat to the humans though, at least compared to their new Q-Bomb, which can crack a planet in half.

Rico reunites with an old girlfriend named Lola (Jolene Blalock – Johnny likes lady pilots with giant lips) and her new boyfriend, General Dix Hauser (Boris Kodjoe). Lola likes Dix alot, she really really likes Dix. She just can’t get enough Dix. Rico I think also likes Dix but you know Dix, obviously I don’t need to tell you about Dix. So there’s always a chance Rico will decide he has had enough of Dix. But remember, this is Colonel Johnny Rico we’re talking about, he can handle Dix if he needs to. He can take it.

(I think Neumeier is smart enough to know that by naming a character Dix Hauser he has made the movie into an interactive game. You will not be able to restrain yourself from talking to the movie about Dix.)

I can’t decide if this is good or bad, but Rico has grown slightly as a character. He’s still completely loyal to the Federation and its genocidal/pesticidal goals, but he’s a little more aware of the grey areas than Dix is. For example when they go to a bar and get hassled by some yahoo farmers Rico tries to make peace with them and acknowledges that their way of life has been ruined by the war and it makes sense for them to be resentful. Most soldiers are not this enlightened, so they all applaud the televised hangings of war protesters on the TV and it causes tensions. I guess sports bars are pretty different in the future.

Rico ends up thinking for himself a little too much and almost gets executed, which sort of betrays the straightfaced sarcasm of Verhoeven but does make him a slightly more sympathetic hero. Don’t worry, he doesn’t turn against the Federation. He ends up leading the charge to clean up a complicated mess involving betrayal, religion, secret conspiracies, a crash landing, and of course a bug that looks suspiciously vaginal. And in fact (SPOILER) one character enters bodily into the giant vagina. Sadly, it’s not Dix that enters into the vagina bug. The bug doesn’t get any Dix. For what it’s worth though there is a little more casual co-ed nudity, and at the very end Johnny does get to wear a robot suit like you guys have been whining about since 1997.

I am also prepared to say that I think Casper Van Dien does a pretty good job. It’s good to see him back, I think he’s kind of cool in it. In my opinion he is not Marlon Brando or Laurence Olivier however he does know how to play a gung ho character like this who when asked by his executioner for his last words asks “Will you get on with it?”

I think part of what makes the original STARSHIP TROOPERS so fun is that it’s hard to believe they actually got to make that movie. It’s so epic and obviously expensive and glamourizes these intentionally vapid characters blindly following a war-hungry government. DTV sequels obviously lose that because they don’t seem as subversive and of course they don’t have as many toys to play with. But if you can get past that and you enjoy this world then there is goofy fun to be had. There’s alot more of the Federal Network propaganda, the highlight being the character of Sky Marshall Anoke (Stephen Hogan), a high ranking military official, psychic and pop star beloved for his patriotic anthem “A Good Day To Die.” It’s a good song, so perfectly clueless and insidious it should get some kind of DTV Oscar. You get to hear it again on the end credits (too bad they didn’t redo it as a radio version with Bebe and Cece Winans or somebody).

There were a few bits where I thought the satire got obvious by being too specific – characters use real lines from the Bush years such as “People need to watch what they say.” On the other hand there are times when it’s a little unclear what exactly they’re trying to say, like there’s a whole thread about religion being outlawed and frowned upon, but there are hardcore Christians within the ranks and then there’s a conflict between Christian God and Bug God… I’m not sure what they’re getting at but I guess I kind of like that. I’m sure it leaves me with more to mull over than the recent DTV sequels to LOST BOYS or WARGAMES would.

Would you like to know more?

The DTV includes a making of, commentary, exte–

Wait, you said no? You don’t want to know more? Ah fuck.

Okay, well there’s another movie coming to DVD this week called ROGUE. It was midnight meat trained onto a mere 10 screens in the US so to us it might as well be DTV. The cover just shows a giant bloody crocodile mouth along with two other “don’t even consider watching this crap” signs: the Dimension Extreme logo and a giant “UNRATED” stamped under the title WITH BLOOD DRIPPING! I mean, can you even imagine how NOT rated this fucker is, there is BLOOD DRIPPING OFF OF THE DESCRIPTION OF THE RATING! WHICH IN THIS CASE IS NOT A RATING AT ALL BUT IN FACT THE LACK OF A RATING! WITH BLOOD! HOLY FUCK!

RogueWhat you have here is one of those covers designed to ward off the people who would enjoy the movie and attract the people who would not. This could definitely be R-rated, it’s hardly a gorefest at all, it’s not “extreme,” and it’s too bad the Weinsteins didn’t let someone with taste and competence of some kind buy it. If those pricks had taken a 90 minute break from ruining everything they would’ve seen that it’s not some shitty CGI bloodfest, it’s actually a very well-made Australian suspense thriller from Greg Mclean, director of WOLF CREEK. Definitely not something they would be interested in.

I know WOLF CREEK is a divisive movie. To me it’s one of the better horror movies of recent years despite the anticlimactic ending, to most critics it’s the most shocking and amoral filth that has ever been put on film, to some of my buddies it’s just not very good. But even zero-stars Roger Ebert admitted it was well directed so hey, how ’bout if this guy does a movie about a big crocodile instead of a murderer? Will that appease you guys? Or do you think it will give crocodiles ideas?

I don’t know about you but when I think “giant crocodile movie” I think crappy photography of some ugly swamp location, some bad actors, and way too many shots of a really bad CGI croc. This is the opposite. Believe it or not I think some people would enjoy it just for the photography and scenery. This has got to be the best use of HD in a horror movie to date because it looks like Attenborough’s PLANET EARTH series. The story follows a tour boat down a river in the northern territory of Australia, and they work in all this amazing footage of animals, insects and incredible natural landscapes.

Instead of trying to make everything fast and noisy like so many youths do, McClean has an old school cinematic feel. I was hooked before anything even happened, just from the dialogue-free opening minutes of star Michael Vartan (21st century Luke Perry) getting out of a bus in the middle of nowhere, smoking a cigarette and walking into a little tavern with gory croc attack newspaper clippings on the wall. This guy is a travel writer, but not an adventurer. A professional tourist. This has some of the same themes as WOLF CREEK: tension between locals and tourists, and the natural beauty and spookiness of Australia.

Vartan goes on this tour boat, and just as they’re about to turn back and head home somebody spots a flare. They go further down the river than they should to check it out and get attacked and stranded by this giant crocodile. Actually I should say large crocodile, because this one is 7 meters long and Mclean informs us on the extras that there is a real one somewhere that’s 7.5 meters. They use the metric system in Australia, by the way, I don’t know how many feet that is but it’s alot in my opinion.

The croc is kind of like JAWS, he is mostly a menacing unseen presence. Usually when he eats somebody (which is surprisingly often) it happens so quick you barely see it. Later you do get a good look at him and there’s enough animatronics and restrained enough animation that it looks pretty real. They make him move like a real animal, this is not like those speed fiend CGI gators in ERASER.

You know, this could’ve easily been retooled into DISNEY’S THE JUNGLE CRUISE. It looks like the same boat and everything. But then they would’ve had to have Eddie Murphy or somebody as the captain instead of the lovely Radha Mitchell.

Mclean gets some great suspense out of the different escape plans they come up with. There were times that the sudden devouring of characters off camera without much mourning started to stretch the realism, and James Cameron’s homie Sam Worthington’s instant flip from asshole to hero seemed a little drastic. But every time I thought it might be losing its steam suddenly something would happen that would make me say “Oh shit!” It’s a very tense movie.

And you know it’s not just that it’s an effective thriller, it also has these little touches here and there that you just don’t expect in a large to giant crocodile picture. Like there’s this character Russell, played by an unrecognizable John Jarrat (the killer from WOLF CREEK, now meek and wearing a fake belly). When he gets on the boat he has two tickets, but he’s by himself. He doesn’t really explain it and you wonder what that’s all about. He’s very quiet. Later, when they’re all enjoying the beauty of nature and shit and he thinks nobody’s looking he takes out a small urn and pours some ashes over the side. Clearly his loss is an important part of where he’s coming from as a character, but they never have him talk about it directly, and the little girl on the boat is the only one who even finds out about it.

What I’m trying to say is this is pretty different from a BOA VS. PYTHON type of movie, in my opinion.

Mclean is 2 for 2 if you ask me. I hope he makes another one soon, but unfortunately his brilliant cinematographer Wil Gibson died last year. That might be what’s delaying him.

Anyway, good week for DTV. If you have to pick one I definitely vote for ROGUE, which is legitimately good as opposed to STARSHIP TROOPERS 3’s enjoyable goofiness. But you know what man? Don’t be a Dix about it. Just rent both of them.

–Vern

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37792

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback in another Window

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 4:55 pm and is filed under Action, AICN, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

31 Responses to “The DoubleHeader You’ve All Been Waiting For! Vern Reviews STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 And ROGUE!!”

  1. I bought Rogue a couple months ago based on this review, but haven’t gotten around to wathcing it. Until tonight, and HOLY SHIT! Go buy or rent or download this thing right now. This movie is a master class in how you set up and pay off sequences of amazing tension. Anyone making a horror movie about a group of characters stuck in an isolated spot facing monsters should watch this movie, because THIS IS HOW YOU FUCKING DO IT RIGHT. Yeah it goes without saying that Romero movies and Carpenter movies all do that but neither of those ever made a movie as potentially cheese-fest as one about a giant croc attacking people (unfortunately). In this movie there is arguements among the characters, everyone in the group has flaws that come out at inoppurtune times, there are fuck-ups and mistakes they make that’ll drive you up the fucking wall, but it always makes sense, it’s believeable and relatable how it all goes down. Unlike so many other genre movies where you’re just counting down the minutes between assholes getting splattereds(coughhatchetcoughcough) I was actively routing for every poor bastard on that island to get off alive. Doesn’t pan out that way, but man does Mclean make every attack sequence and escape attempt stick. I haven’t even seen Wolf Creek and I’m sold on this dude being one of the better guys working right now (although he apparently doesn’t have a single project in development right now which blows). But oh well, there’s a legitimately good giant croc movie to testify for the guy, so yay.

  2. In full agreement. Rouge is an excellent film that every horror fan should view.

    So of coarse one of my ex-friends sat down and watched it with me and said it was the most boring movie he ever saw. We’re not friends anymore anyway so his opinion is invalid.

    As were The Descent I felt kinda faltered when it introduced the evil Gollums, Rouge succeeded the whole isolation vs monster territory the whole running time. I was pulled out of the movie like I seem to anymore with horror movies (happened to me again Friday when I saw Halloween 2, enjoyed it till the end when they did something that pulled me out of it)

    And I never would have given this film a shot if it were not for vern. I’d been a shallow asshole I always complain about and pass it right by. So thanks vern!

    I really hope this one’s word-of-mouth spreads and it builds a following it deserves. One of the best horror movies made that nobody has ever seen.

  3. As for Starship Troopers 3: I really enjoyed that one as well. It overcame it’s tiny budget pretty good for the most part. It felt a whole lot truer to the original than number 2 did. I felt it was a worthy follow-up.

    -Can we just ignore part 2 altogether and say part 3 is actually 2?

  4. I really enjoyed Starship Troopers 3 as well, and I even have mixed feelings about the first movie. It seems a lot of people are unsure about the extent to which the religion stuff in it is satire but I kind of like that; it’s impressive that they’ve managed to make people unsure about this series’ meanings again, when surely everyone by now knows the first was a blatant satire.

  5. Reposting this from the “Expendables” thread.

    See “ROGUE”, from 2007, starring Michael Vartan and Radha Mitchell. Just see it. What is it about Australia and excellent killer croc movies? This is everything I was hoping “Detour” would be (but wasn’t): fantastic cast of characters, great acting, superbly tense, without the constant “tense” soundtrack (the modern horror movie’s shakycam, if you like. This trend of putting “Psycho”-like strings throughout the entire damn movie should die a painful and well-deserved death. There’s a reason Bernard Hermann was the master – he knew how to create tension, but he also knew when to pull back.)

    Anyway… “Rogue”. Fantastic creature-feature. If you get the chance to see it, see it. It just made my day. It’s even better than “Black Water”, and that was fucking excellent. For once the AICN hype is 100% deserved.

    Damn, it’s been a good year-and-a-bit for seeing horror / suspense flicks. “The Ruins”, “Drag me to Hell”, “Black Water”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “Hostel”, “The Descent”, “Twilight: Eclipse”, “Dead Snow”, “Let the Right One In”, “Carriers”, and more recently “Kairo”, “The Host”, “Open Water” and this.** Ok, there’ve been a few stinkers, but what a bunch of fucking fantastic films there’ve been for the most part.

    (**But did you catch the one I threw in there to keep you on your toes?)

    BTW I am surprised, but not shocked, that this is by the same guy who did “Wolf Creek”, and stars at least one of the same actors. I thought “Wolf Creek” took an absolute nosedive when it introduced its killer in one of the most groan-inducingly corny performances I can remember in a supposedly serious horror movie (as opposed to the disposable popcorn type where acting talent becomes less important than cup size). Watching this, I don’t even think “Wolf Creek” was Jarrett’s fault, since he’s great in “Rogue”.

    I put it more down to bad direction – in “Wolf Creek” the director didn’t seem to be able to make his mind up as to whether the killer was a straight-up lunatic or a friendly guy who just happened to kill people, so Jarrett’s performance lurches schizophrenically from one extreme to the other, never approaching any kind of believability for me. That said, until the killer was introduced, “Wolf Creek” had the makings of a fantastic road movie. It was in many respects very well directed, and as long as the killer wasn’t there, it worked for me.

    “Black Water” is what “Wolf Creek” should have been IMO. Fantastic little movie.

  6. Let it go, Vern. Just let it go.

  7. Australian newspaper link for you from last week: http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/08/05/169811_ntnews.html

  8. Paul – put “Ivan Milat” into google images will you. The first page alone should convince you Jarrett was well directed and delivering what he was supposed to.

    They say officially Wolf Creek was not about Miliat but every Australian over 25 knows it was.

  9. Vern, I think we can agree to disagree on “Wolf Creek”, given that I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said regarding “Rogue”.

  10. Paul – I liked Rogue so much that I did the same thing – immediately searched for a Vern review after I saw it, and was bummed when i couldn’t find one (till now). As said before, it’s awesome because it’s engrossing and gripping even before the croc shows up (kinda like how I LOVE the first hour of Jurassic Park with the Mr. DNA sequence et. al) and once he does show up it just gets crazy intense. I like that the gore was just right (not too gross, not too PG-13). I like that we know JUST ENOUGH about the characters (like the aforementioned scene w/ the ashes). I like the almost real-time unfolding of the story. I love the use of silence and shadows and light. It really is the best movie of its kind since Jaws. (I love Anaconda and Lake Placid, but for totally different, cheesy reasons)

    Also, I also thought it was cool to catch two early performances by Sam Worthington and Aurora Snow, I mean Mia Wasikowska, since they’re the leads in the two biggest hits this year.

    And SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER – I kinda liked that Radha Mitchell “dies” in the exact same way that she does in Pitch Black, only this time to be rescued and brought back from death. It’s like cross-movie wish fulfillment.

  11. Neal – well I’m with you on “Lake Placid” anyway. One of my most unexpected “favorite” movies. Don’t get the “Anaconda” love though, sorry. To me it’s just another bad film with Jennifer Lopez / Jon Voight in it. (Is there any other kind of film with them in it nowadays?) I can’t remember much about it, I was just bored.

    And yeah, I’m in total agreement about “Rogue”. And with Vern. Nice to get a film we can all agree on for once!

  12. Just watched ROGUE during my 24-Horror-movies-till-Xmas marathon and yes, it’s awesome! It had me in the first scene, when they showed this typical Animal Planet scene, of a Bufallo trying to drink some water and then ending up as croc food, only that it was all shot and edited like a slasher movie scene.

  13. It also cracks me up to read the commentaries and learn that I wasn’t the only one who searched for a ROGUE review but couldn’t find it at first, thanks to it being connected with a STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 review.

  14. Starship Troopers 3… jesus christ do i have to say it a third time CJ?

  15. Well, I know it was three. It was a typo, I guess. You know my problem with never reading what I wrote before I hit “submit comment”.

  16. Give him a break, AU. You know english isn’t his first language.

  17. Yeah, thank you. Not many people know that a 3 is written like a 2 in German.

  18. AU gives no quarter and expects none. Your pleas for mercy have only inflamed his wrath. Someday soon, you will see a cloud of dust on the horizon, accompanied by the thunder of a thousand motorcycle engines, and you will know his mighty horde has come for you. When this happens, you should make peace with your puny god and breathe deep, for each taste of air may well be your last.

  19. I just pretend I’m not home and won’t open the door, like I always do.

  20. Now I’m picturing AU dressed as Lord Humongous, standing on CJ’s stoop and scratching his head.

    “What do you think, should we leave a note?”

  21. I love the original STARSHIP TROOPERS and I’m very saddened by the remake news

    I’ll never forget watching it for the first time, this was when it first came out on VHS so it must have been 1998, I watched it early in the morning before my parents woke and I was just thrilled by how gory and action packed it was…

    and then of course out of nowhere was the shower scene, my 8 year old mind was blown, that was one of the first times I ever saw naked ladies in a movie, it’s a good thing my parents were asleep otherwise they would have made me stop watching it

    but here’s the funny thing, not only was it my introduction to naked ladies, but it was also my introduction to satire, while I only vaguely understood it, I did get a sense that it was making a sarcastic statement on modern times, funny how some critics missed what an 8 year old picked up on

  22. There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. Just walk away.

  23. So I went to FEDCON yesterday, which is Germany’s biggest SciFi convention and yesterday they actually screened STARSHIP TROOPERS, while having Casper van Dien, Dina Meyer and Patrick Muldoon providing live commentary. You already like that movie? It’s even better with Dina Meyer saying “Eew”, when we see Denise Richards for the first time, Casper van Dien improvising new dialogue for the scene where he tells his parents that he considers going to the army (which includes him, yelling at his dad for being a jerk with a way too hot wife) and him and Patrick Muldoon re-enacting their fistfight as thumbwar to death.

    And if you have John Barrowman (from TORCHWOOD) joining them, who has nothing to do with the movie, except for being a huge fan of it and a good friend of van Dien, the whole show becomes borderline pornographic, with lots of dry humping. At times even in their underwear. Dina Meyer tried to sneak off the stage whenever one of her nude scenes was near, but it never worked. And then the movie got at one point interrupted, for a live Skype video call from Ed Neumeier himself, who is a surprisingly good Paul Verhoeven impersonator.

    I just wanted to share this.

  24. CJ – sounds ridiculously awesome. I got nothing against Van Dien personally but for the longest time I just assumed he was another one of those “upcoming” pretty looking talents that Hollywood banked all at once until he didn’t “happen” and was left to wallow in the margins subsequently. But from the sounds of that commentary, he’s not the dipstick I always assumed he was.

    Also CJ, just because I lost stereotypes…how big was the Trekkie presence there this year?

  25. love, not “lost.”

  26. Van Dien is (or actually seems to be, because obviously I don’t really know him) an awesome guy, who loves to have fun with his fans. I have to say, I’ve never been a huge fan of him either, but now I am.

    And trekkos: Lots of them, after all the new movie started yesterday (they showed a pre-recorded video message from JJ Abrams!) and some actors from several series were there. But at least the real life isn’t THE BIG BANG THEORY, so most of them are seriously awesome people, many are smoking hot women and they all know how to party hard. (The Fedcon parties are legendary. I left at 3am and the hotel bar was still full!)

    And this is me with Dina Meyer. http://img.ly/uFUr

  27. (I always write “Meyer” although I know that it’s “Meyers”.)

  28. No, it IS Meyer. I contribute this to a lack of sleep.

  29. CJ – I had to ask only because of you know that stereotype that Germans are the most hardcore Trekkies of them all. (Aren’t Trekkies hardcore generally around the globe? I mean that’s why they’re called Trekkies.)

    That reminds me, on Netflix sometime back I caught that documentary William Shatner directed where he interviewed all the Star Trek captains. (including Chris Pine for a whopping 5 minutes.) I meant to kill some time, but I ended up being interested and engaged in him sharing Trek stories and Hollywood/acting anecdotes with all those different actors from their different backgrounds.

    The highlight was Avery Brooks (Sisko from DEEP SPACE NINE) just fucking with Shatner in general, not really interested in any of that shit. To give T.J. Hooker credit, he actually went with the flow of this crazyness.

  30. Actually I hear for the first time about this stereotype, but I would say it’s true. And yeah, I haven’t seen that CAPTAINS documentary, but I can confirm that Avery Brooks is definitely one of a kind.

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