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Reviews Comments: A Dark Satire That Requires a lot of Attention Starship Troopers film/book review by Fauxlosophe

I finally got around to watching Starship Troopers after I had been told it was a parody and was shown the opening mini-propaganda commercial. The humour in these commercials were very sharp and if I had to pick a favourite part of the film, it would probably be them.

However, where I was expecting campy satire, I got what would be a pretty decent straight war thriller in a lot of ways [ignoring the darker satirical elements, bad tactics, etc]. In this sense the movie felt like it didn't quite know what it wanted to be; a campy parody or a straight scifi warfilm and typically I'd say that a movie trying both will fail at both. However, Starship Troopers isn't a laugh outloud comedy and knows what elements it wants to target; The system of government is corrupt and filled iwth jingoism and etc but the characters are played pretty straight.

In my opinion the goal of the film is to show us how the characters are reduced from being young highschoolers with nominal faith in the government to being the horrible blindly militaristic soldiers by the end. Carl still views Rico as little more than a statistic by the end, Rico is the "ballbusting" lieutenant and so on down the list, if they didn't die brutally along the way. The characters aren't reduced to idiots to highlight how bad things are, they accept it since they were raised there. There isn't a view point character to point out how messed up this world is and serve as an audience surrogate, that's our job as viewers but to someone willing to analyse as they watch, it's a pretty miserable institution they're defending. Small stuff such as the news lying about the death toll on the planet which can only be noticed if you're paying attention to something the director isn't pointing you at, adds a lot to this.

It's certainly not a laugh outloud satire like some might be lead to believe from fans. Further, subtlety is over done, small details matter but are impossible to notice unless you know what you are looking for. It's very easy to miss some details and the fact that many of these darker elements aren't commented on at all by characters make them easy to miss or ignore if you don't know you should be looking for them.

Over all, I think this is a very poignant satire, put together very skillfully with a lot to say, just sometimes it isn't are not willing to say it loud enough.


  • Bobchillingworth
  • 28th Apr 13
While it is certainly an excellent satire, I'm not sure I would ever call the movie "subtle"; it smashes the viewer over the head with the brutal absurdity of pointless war. It is also very funny at certain parts, provided you have healthy appetite for dark comedy. The absolutely moronic live-fire training exercise immediately comes to mind.
  • Fauxlosophe
  • 13th May 13
I agree it hits you very heavily with brutal absurdity, but it does it in such a way it doesn't scream "I'm joking and this is a comedy". I wrote this as a response to some of the comments that said the satirical elements aren't obvious and it just looks like a brutal film trying to play things but poorly. In this, I wrote this with the idea of omitting the in universe propaganda and comparing it to a case of They Just Didn'tCare, but the Dystopic elements still hit pretty obviously and are dealt with in stride in such a way that make it clear that it is satire; however this relies on a person not tuning it out in the same way the characters do. No one in the film cares that you need a permit from military service to raise children or comments on it, so if you blinked you missed it which I think contributes to people missing it.

Even for the people who do see the heavily nihilism and "get" the satire have to keep their eyes peeled to get all the horrible implications; Mormons being pushed into forbidden space, Humans both believing the idea of intelligent bugs is "insulting" while much earlier claiming that these bugs could aim asteroids half way accross a galaxy for the purpose of antagonizing them.

The dystopia and brutality of it aren't hidden or subtle, but I think a lot of people miss the comedy of it because there's no one there to say "Oh my gosh that is horrible" so it's easy to gloss over it like the characters and miss the full range of implications put out there.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 13th May 13
I felt there were several moments that screamed "I'm joking" such as the like "the military made me the man I am" and an immediate shot showing he had no legs. It may not have supposed to have been funny (trying to be poignant or the like), but the sheer lack of subtlety made it feel like someone was trying to be funny. Unfortunately, I think that for me to appreciate the smaller points, the movie needed to have dialed this sort of thing down.
  • Fauxlosophe
  • 14th Jun 13
I agree. Looking back on this review, I think I would have written something a bit better but then I saw a few of the other reviews deny the satire or claim it was too hidden. Poes law might apply except that everything about the humans in this film is horrible and the least bit of thinking points you towards that.

There was definitely some interesting things said implicitly or only in a side mention by the film which helped build a really interesting world while giving credit to our intelligence. I'd really like to see a bit more of that in movies rather than having a straightman to point out all the ways the future is different. On the other hand, it works on a lot of different levels, you can analyse it deeper and find a bunch of small easter eggs, or laugh at how horrible everything is.

The only issue is that some switch their brains completely off and miss the humour. Too many people. And that makes me sad.

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