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Headscratchers: Starship Troopers
  • Why does everyone insist that this movie is "based off the cover of the book?" Speaking as someone who has actually READ the book, I can tell you that certain scenes are included word-for-word, including nearly everything in the classroom and Rico's encounter with the one-armed recruiting officer. And little details like the special tearaway shit used for flogging also found their way in, which shows at least someone was paying attention. I'm not saying it's an especially faithful adaptation: we still lose the suits, the skinnies, and several long boring training sequences, but it's more than just an unrelated movie with the title slapped on, like so many are fond of saying. (Before you bring it up, yes I know it started as an unrelated script, but there were clearly some major rewrites)
    • Because the tone of the book and the tone of the movie are utterly different? That it ditched the book's admittedly ham-fisted pro-military conservative tone and message of What It Takes To Be A Man and tossed in a clumsy "satire" bashing the very pro-government, pro-military ideals the book was based on? Because the book's biggest twist (Johnny's race) was sacrificed on the altar of Dawson Casting?
      • In addition, director Verhoeven openly admitted that he only read the first few chapters of the book.
      • You do know that the director doesn't WRITE the movie?
      • Director has a good deal to do with the tone of a movie, which is one of the most radical departures of the film v. the book.
    • I wouldn't even give the movie that much credit, considering that the book's cover shows Powered Armor. To be more accurate would be to call it "based on the title of and some of the names in the book".
      • The suits were missing in SST 1 and SST 2 but they were introduced in SST 3: Marauder.
    • Maybe because the scenes that WERE preserved had their messages changed and bits removed that would have explained their context within the society better. For instance, they removed the scene where Johnny encounters the legless recruitment officer after work wearing his PROSTHETIC LEGS and inquires as to why he takes them off to work. And the recruitment officer immediately explains that the government is sick of all these people joining the military and having to find make-work for them to do and that the military is really not so much dangerous as it is boring. Also the scene where the OCS instructors explain that the main reason they continue limiting the franchise the way they do is essentially just because society continues to function.
      • The most egregious example of a scene being changed was the explanation of why they need to know how to use knives when they can just push a button to Nuke 'em. Even if the scene in the movie was much more entertaining. In general, the "Based on the cover of the book" complaint is both overly snarky AND Defictionalized, with the books published after the movie came out featuring a modified version of the movie poster (making it a Book Cover Based On A Movie).
    • The Movie was originally written as "Bug Hunt at Outpost 9". When the producers heard there was a book where people wage war on bugs, they bought the rights, changed the title, the names of a few characters, and wrote a couple of scenes from the book in. That is the extent to the novel's influence on the movie. Shame.
    • For me, it was that their military was Too Dumb to Live and was a massive Epic Fail. In the book, the Fleet and Mobile Infantry are a Badass Army. I fell in love with the power armor of the book, especially because Heinlein's MI model is what the US military is today. I just hate the movie because of the MI's fall from grace.
  • Throughout most of the movie, and even lampshaded in one of the instructional videos, it is clear that the small caliber automatic rifles they issue the Mobile Infantry are almost useless when trying to kill the bugs. Then, at one point one character gets wounded and pulls out a shotgun, possibly the only one seen in the entire movie. For a few seconds, it's one-shot-one-kill on every bug he aims at. So... why no general issue shotguns or (even better) auto-shotguns?
    • I don't know what film you were watching, but Rico fires 6 or 7 shots into ONE bug to bring it down then runs out of ammo shooting the second one. Buckshot has low penetration and rarely goes through body armor (to which I imagine bug carapace is similar in durability). If he and the rest of the MI use slugs to deal with the penetration issue, then they have to aim directly at the nerve stem and if they miss they have to fire another one of their shots, of which the Ithaca 37 (which is the actual gun used in the Marita props) only holds between 4 and 8 depending on model (probably 4 due to the length of the underbarrel but increased to about 10 or 12 in the film). In short, you either need ImprobableAimingSkills or you'd need to spend about half of your magazine taking down one bug, the other half taking down another then begin the painfully slow reload process of a pump shotgun all while thousands of other bugs are charging toward you and your mates. In standard MI squad size (4 people) that equates to about 8 dead bugs per 4 dead troopers.
    • The "shotgun" is just the automatic rifle to burst fire. The difference there was Rico was aiming at the bug's nerve stem.
    • But the standard rifle has a shotgun underbarrel attachment. You can see Rico using this in the first battle, complete with a pump action, and a second barrel underneath the main one that is firing.
      • Perhaps it is an issue of range? Great weapon up close, as he was forced to be by injuries and situation, but ones life expectancy at that distance is considerably lower. Good analogue of most video game style shotguns too!
      • We also see the shotgun used to take down one of the fliers (the one that ends up falling on the General). The fact that the shotgun is underutilized isn't any more egregious than the underutilization of any of their other weapons, including the Ba-Nuke-as and the bombers.
      • In addition to the general in-effectiveness of the MI's main weapon, it is also a very large and bulky weapon. The current trend, IRL, has been to decrease the size and weight of infantry rifles. This isnt being done to make troopers lives easier, but to reduce fatigue. But this is mainly so they can carry more ammo. The MI's main weapon, even if they do use composities, still looks heavy, and also very clumsy to aim and fire. The prop bit that shows MI troopers handing out bullets to the children clearly indicates the weapons are not caseless, and the shell caseings are huge. Carrying any quantity of ammo for such a weapon would be beyond tireing. Especially for a force that has no motorized ground transport and seems to walk everywhere. Michael Ironsides Character is shown useing a small-compact carbine, it seems no less effective than the MI main rifle, is far easier to handle and fire, yet he seems to be only one that rates such a weapon.
  • Does anyone else think this movie makes a good Deconstruction of action movie tropes? The Excuse Plot is actually government propaganda, the Hollywood Tactics fail spectacularly and the Sociopathic Hero is also a Villain Protagonist.
    • That's the point of the movie.
  • When Dizzy dies, they put her body in a coffin and just eject it into space, where anything could happen to it - it could be a hazard, the body could fall out etc. Wouldn't it make more sense, given the number of casualties they were having, to have some sort of cremation service available?
    • It's tradition. A sailor's funeral IN SPACE!
    • Perhaps they fired it at a sun?
      • It's a lot harder than it looks to Hurl It into the Sun. To the point at hand: there's a lot of empty space in space, despite what the fleet scenes suggest. The odds of something ever coming into contact with the coffin are minute. The odds of finding out about it are even more improbable.
      • It's not too hard to calculate where that coffin would go. It's probable that the coffin's trajectory would take it into a planet's atmosphere where it would burn up or out into extrasolar space where it would hardly be a bother to anyone.
  • Would using a robot or some type of combined arms to fight the bugs have killed this movie?
    • Probably, but then so would using the fighting suits from the book.
    • Besides, just look at the robots from the Star Wars prequels and how useful they were.
      • It depends from the model and their use. B1 battle droids (the ones without rank markings introduced in the first prequel) are shit, but are made to take on blaster-less primitives with ridicolous numerical superiority and invulnerability (they were giving the Gungan a hard time in spite of the 'boomas' being able to wreck them), and later models react to the lack of a control signal by killing everyone who is not in their 'to spare' list instead than deactivating. The OOM-series (those with markings) had decent smarts and would have been a capable opponent against most infantry, but costed too much and was relegated to either piloting or jobs where their opponents were Jedi. Droideka models are all-but undefeatable in closed environments thanks to the combination of rapid-firing blasters and shields capable of taking most blaster fire (including their own, to the Jedi's dismay), and can be deployed in groups to cover for their vulnerable behinds (they still excel in closed environments as security when lethal force is authorized, though). And the B2 (the armored ones introduced in Attack of the Clones), being a B1 with sligthly better intelligence and much superior armour (capable to take a few shots from their own weapons, at least) and rate of fire, are something you don't want to fight unless you have big blasters, and can take on both Clonetroopers (they will lose, but the troopers will learn they are in a fight), stormtroopers (same as the clonetroopers), Wookie (they won the first battle), Jedi (unless the Jedi is near enough to get into melee range, he's toast), and Yuuzhan Vong bio-mecha (they won).
  • Was anyone else annoyed with how rushed the first film? I imagine Rico would have recorded his message to Carmen on his first night at camp. So, allow about a week or two for his message to get to Carmen. How is Carmen already qualified to fly a "half a million tons of starship" (God, I hate that line)? Did they use the Psychlo learning machine to train their pilots? Also, Zander signed up the day before her. How is HE already a flight instructor?
    • Carmen alters the spaceship's course after only three weeks of traineeship, which leads to a collision with the asteroid, leaving the ship damaged. The captain says "thanks to Carmen" "lives have been saved" (there isn't any more damage). Praise for a beginner's mistake with dire consequences after being on board only for three weeks???
      • A collision that took out the communications tower, preventing the ship from sending a warning back to Earth, thus resulting in the deaths of 8 million people. Nice job breaking it, Carmen.
      • Carman had no way of knowing the asteroid would be there. And considering that they didn't notice it till it was right on top of them and no one else saw it till it struck Earth they probably wouldn't have noticed it if they'd continued on their first course.
      • Really, if the blame falls on anyone in that sequence, it falls on Zander. As menioned, Carmen couldn't have known about that asteroid (they are REALLY hard to detect in interstellor space) and, when the situation arose, Zander specifically ordered her to hold on firing the emergency thrusters. Unless there was some sort of warm-up sequence (in which case the glass case wouldn't have been necessary) the hold order served no purpose.
  • If the bugs have no FTL capability, how are they able to attack Earth in the first place? It would've taken them hundreds of years to hurl an asteroid from a remote star system.
    • In the book, the Bugs had giant biological transport ships; I play the RPG, which borrows from the movie, the book, and the show. Also, it's never proven that the Bugs sent the asteroid. It could have been a Gulf of Tonkin attack, so the government would have a reason to declare war against an enemy that wasn't a threat at all.
    • The huge biological ships appear in the show. The asteroid was just fired with momentum, however. Either that or the conspiracy theory.
    • Correction: The book NEVER mentions whether or not Bug technology is biologically based. The book DOES, however, mention that the Bugs are technologically advanced enough to build spaceships and outfit all of their warriors with beam weaponry.
    • The bugs do have some kind of FTL ability becasue they are able to colonise other planets and they hit a ship moving at warp speed with their plasma in the third film.
    • It's been argued (for the movie), precisely for this FTL reason, that the meteorite was a deliberate inside job to further the Terrans need/want for war.
    • Alternate answer: Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale.
    • It seems clear that the Bugs have some sort of FTL, even if it's not clear whether or not they launched the astroid that struck Buenos Aires. Most likely the Bugs' capabilities are being far underplayed by the Federation propoganda.
  • What was the point (besides Rule of Drama) in the arbitrary delay in firing the Rodger Young's emergency thrusters when approaching the asteroid? It seems like it should have been just effective firing them immediately (unless there's some technical reason I'm unaware of), it's especially bothersome when the delay caused the loss of the ship's communications, thus leading to the Buenos Aires disaster in the first place.
    • Because Carmen is a show-off and Xander is an idiot.
  • Is there a Trope that describes the piece of propaganda that showed a murderer being caught, tried, convicted, and executed, in, what was most likely, a span of 8 hours? Seriously, I get that the future is authoritarian, but that some uber-efficient justice.
  • Lieutenant Rasczak.
    First off, he's missing his hand, and the prosthetic hand he has seems rather clumsy. Unless the wars purpose is to kill as many humans as possible on the battlefield, there is NO way, in any army, that he would be assigned a front line combat command with a missing hand-sorry. If he volunteered, he might be accepted for a support role on Earth, but that's about it.
    Secondly, he does not seem to be very good at his job. On the walk to the outpost, he orders his comm nco to higher ground, yet does not think to assign a section of troopers to cover him. Made worse, just moments earlier, he spies what could be enemy movement above him, but sends a single man up to high ground alone anyway. Then to top it all off, proceeds to 'mercy' (i.e. execute really) kill him when grabbed by a flying bug. If Rasczak is such a good shot, even with his missing hand, why does he not attempt to kill the bugs with his superior marksmanship, but instead finds if more expedient to kill his own man. How would soldiers feel if they knew there officer would is just as likely to kill them if they get into trouble than try to save them? Myself, I'd rather be badly injured, but alive, rather than simply shot out of hand with no attempt by my fellows to save me. Radscak is lucky his own troops are as dumb as he is, in any other army, he'd have to sleep with a loaded handgun in his bedroll. Nor is any attempt made to recover his body, dog tags, anything, he's just left where he was. Later, at the outpost, he's shown as being fully prepared to execute a hysterical senior staff officer on the spot, with witnesses no less, and no authorization whatsoever to do so. I'm pretty sure Lieutenants executing generals is frowned upon in most militaries. How he commands such loyalty amoung his troops is a real headscratcher given his total lack of concern for there lives and his enthusiasm for summary execution.
    • He's a good enough shot that his hand must be a fairly decent model, and you'll notice that artificial limbs are a common sight in the military. They have very little regard for human life. As for his behavior, again, the military has little regard for human life. He gets the job done, which is presumably why he has his post. The specific shootings mentioned do have some extenuating circumstances. The flier bug dragged that dude way up the cliff and had torn him up pretty bad. That guy was a goner. No one ever bothers to grab tags; if you don't come back, you're dead. They don't need his tags to report him as such. Rico had the good sense to stop him the second time. It's clear at that point that Radscak is just pragmatic to the point of stupidity.
    • Not grabbing tags is one thing, not sending anyone up the cliff to grab the radio from the sergeant he'd shot is an entirely different matter. If the bugs hadn't overlooked the communication gear when they trashed everything at that outpost, they'd all have been dead meat.
    • This is actually a movie plot hole. In the original book the armless teacher was a different character, lieutenant colonel (retired) Dubois, and did not re-enlist precisely because prostetics were too clumsy for the battlefield. Same reason the legless sergeant, the enlistment center and the paraplegic drill sergeant and blind history teacher at the military academy, and the other mutilated soldiers do paperwork or jobs that don't involve physical effort: they are too clumsy for actual physical effort, but their brains still work (in fact the paraplegic drill sergeant is noted by Rico to be just as good as Zim, if more sadistic in his comments) and they decided to not retire.

  • No one ever gets briefed in the Federation. No really. Captain Deladier(sp?) seems to have received some very cursory, and inaccurate briefs about the invasion of Klendathu. However, she did not seem to feel it necessary to pass any of that information along to you know, her bridge crew. Presumably this is case throughout the entire fleet as well. Carmen seems to have no idea what they should be expecting. Rico's unit officer also seems to not have been briefed either, provided with maps, or indeed, any sort of objectives or battle plan or the role of him and his troops in it, besides hit the ramp screaming and fire at anything with more than 2 legs. The only briefing the troops get is on the way down. Which is rather funny thing to say, given the feds willingness to execute there own on the spot for the slightest of reasons. As an aside, if Carmen is such a hot pilot, why could she not evade the rather slow moving uhhh.. plasma bolts. Even if the purpose of not briefing the fleet the bugs had ship killing capability was to intentionally cause the destruction of a few of its own ships, you would think she would be good enough to avoid a hit.
    • Starships are big, slow, and the space they were in had them parked way too close together. Also, the bugs were just spamming tons of plasma. That Carmen got her ship out with a scrape the first time is a testament to her skill, not a mark against it.
      • And before anybody asks why the ships were so close together... that was actually straight out of the book. And it was explicitely spelled out in hindsight as a terrible idea in the book too (in the book, the two ships collided all on their own: They tried to come out of hyperspace in tight formation to allow them to commence the drop before the bugs could react, but someone was off on their math and two ships plowed into each other immediately. The rest of the battle went rapidly downhill from there.) The Invasion of Klendathu in both the book and movie is a clusterfuck of truly astronomical proportions.

  • Are the star ships piloted only by eye or something because it seems like there should have been warning of an asteroid on a collision course with the ship before the pilots could see it themselves.
    • That's Carmen's fault. She is demonstrably reckless. She replotted the course. The ship likely detected the asteroid before that, but there was no chance of a collision. After she did, it was right there.
      • But again if the computer detected something then wouldn't it have some sort of warning. "You have plotted a course that will kill us all. Would you like some help?" And didn't Zander check her course corrections?
      • Maybe the "random shit in our path" feature is separate from the "optimum course" feature. Maps usually don't chart space-debris unless it orbits something.
      • The computer did give a warning... when they were falling into the asteroid's gravity well. That implies either very ineffective sensors or some kind of stealthed asteroid (which would lend credence to the asteroid strike being intentional, if not making it clear who launched it).
  • This movie is frequently described as anti-war / anti-military. I certainly see it as anti-fascist, and it satirizes military culture. It shows the Federation military as brutally gung ho but spectacularly incompetent. The message I take from it is “Having an effective military isn’t about talking tough or looking tough, you need to actually study the art of war and put together an efficient, well-organized military campaign.” It seems like the movie is really attacking those who play at war instead of being serious about winning wars. Does this really count as anti-military or anti-war? I mean, the Keystone Cops isn’t exactly “anti-police”, it is just a comedy about how funny it would be if police were totally incompetent.
    • It's called anti-war and anti-military because 1) it doesn't show any actual division between the military and fascism, 2) it portrays the majority of the military as callous, vicious, stupid, or some combination thereof, 3) the director said it's an anti-war movie and that he thinks Heinlen was a fascist.
  • In the film why do they list Rico as KIA when they have him in regeneration? In fact how did they even regenerate him? Based on how visceral the bugs are and the fact Rico was utterly abandoned in the retreat I doubt they retrieved anything worthwhile of him. So why did he get chosen for regeneration? At that point he was merely a private and I don't see how they had anything left to heal of him. By listing him as KIA it's just going to cause untold sorrow to whoever sees it, like it does his ex-girlfriend. If it was a generic trooper his family could read his fatality statistic, hold a funeral for the trooper, only to get a message a few weeks later from their late son fresh from regeneration. By listing it as basic "KIA" instead of "KIA-Regenerating" it's just going to confuse matters. The girlfriend only found out Rico was alive later when they met face to face again. Also if this technology exists why is anyone's death treated with consequence. Later on in the film Rico's ex-teacher and CO dies and he held a more important rank and his body was equally irretrievable like Rico's was. Why not regenerate that guy? Or Rico's lover who they retrieved the body of, she was a squad commander, a higher rank than when Rico himself was regenerated and he weeps tears over her instead of thinking to put her in for regeneration.
    • The KIA is probably just a mistake in the filing—someone hit the wrong button, and he was listed wrong. And you're completely misunderstanding what's going on in that scene. He was never killed. The idea is that Raczak managed to retrieve Rico during the retreat. Just because the scene cut out on Rico doesn't mean he was actually dead.
      • It didn't just 'cut' out on him it showed him shooting wildly on his own after the entire line had retreated he was unable to move and wounded. He distinctly ran out of ammo as another approached and when it blacks out it blacks out from the inside of the bug's mouth. No sign of rescue approaching and everything hinted at his death.
      • "Hinted" =/= "confirmed." It's to create narrative tension. The point is to make you think that he's dead, then surprise you with him being alive. Hell, when Rico joins the Roughnecks, it's directly pointed out to him that Razcak retrieved him on the way off the planet. The clear implication is after the camera cut out, Raczak showed up, blasted that bug, and hauled Rico's ass back to a dropship. There's nothing in the movie that ever implies that they can bring people back from the dead.
      • Rico's only major injury is shown to be the puncture through his leg. It probably did almost kill him, but someone got a tourniquet on him in time. Basically the bug swings its pinchers down, one of them punctures his leg, and he's tossed about a bit. The bug probably figured he was dead after that and threw him down and moved on to other, livelier prey. Him getting listed KIA was, as said, probably a filing error. Hell, with the way casualties went at Klendathu, they probably just marked everyone who was on the front lines and not standing there afterwards to say otherwise as KIA, figuring it'd be easier to sort out and fix the ones who weren't afterward.
    • In Universe, the answer is simple: He was rescued by a completely different unit. His own platoon limped back to the dropships, took roll and probably assumed he was dead. Raczak is from a different unit, grabbed him during his own retreat and probably didn't know who he belonged to.
  • Did Carmen really decide to stay with Rico when they were going off to possibly not see each other for two years minimum and then less than three weeks into just her training decide that things were just not going to work out?
    • No. Carmen decided to stay with Rico when they were going off to not see each other for two years, maximum. She decided it wasn't going to work out when she decided she wanted to go career.
  • So we see robotic hands that seem to work as well as human hands. When we see the soldier that processes Rico and Carmen's paperwork at the beginning of the movie, he has no legs. So no robotic legs in the future?
    • They probably do, but this was something taken from the book. In the book, the recruiter is similarly crippled and takes applications exactly like that. Immediately after he clocks out for the day, he puts on prosthetics that work perfectly and explains to Rico that he goes without them while on the job so that potential recruits know exactly what they're getting themselves into, as a way to weed out the squeamish.
      • OP here, thanks for that. That part of the movie always bugged me.
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