Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) is the first of two Direct to Video sequels to Paul Verhoeven's 1997 version of Starship Troopers. Unlike the first film's epic Military Science Fiction story, this is more of a contained Sci-Fi Horror.
After a disastrous engagement on a Bug world, a group of Mobile Infantry soldiers flee to a deserted Federation outpost, finding only a few custodians and a disgraced soldier in lock-up. They reactivate the electrified defense perimeter, buying them some time for a rescue ship to arrive. It soon becomes clear that the Bugs have infiltrated the place in the form of Puppeteer Parasites and plan to take over the Federation's central command.
This film provides examples of:
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Bugs see humanity as this, regarding them as a virus.
- Anyone Can Die: At the end, Sahara is the only soldier sent on the planet to leave it alive, with others having been killed one way or another and Dax opting for a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Author Tract: Surprisingly not done in the commentary for this film, where the film-makers point out that everyone assumes the movie is about Iraq, but the script was written long before that war started.
- Body Horror: One of the infected starts literally falling apart, and another one rips off his head to reveal a bug inside.
- Bottle Episode: This film stands apart from the other two Starship Troopers live-action films because the action is confined to a single base for the majority of the film, along with a Tone Shift to sci-fi horror instead of military science fiction.
- The Brigadier: General Jack Gordon Shepherd subverts the totalitarian style of the (film universe's) Terran Federation by staying behind with a select few troopers to cover the retreat of the rest of the platoon. Miraculously, he survives this and turns out to be The Mole, under the control of a Puppeteer Parasite.
- Call-Back: The recruiter identifies a mother's infant son as "fresh meat for the grinder". Said mother is not amused.
- Darker and Edgier: This film abandons the Black Comedy of the first film.
- Distress Call: The troopers are able to send a distress signal early on, with most of the plot centering on the troopers slowly being overcome by Puppeteer Parasites one by one while waiting for their retrieval boat.
- Dwindling Party: There are a number of soldiers waiting for extraction from the outpost. Pretty much all of them are infected and subsequently killed.
- Energy Weapon: The movie featured strobe-light weapon props because they couldn't afford real guns. Incidentally, everyone complained that the guns didn't look like they were shooting "lasers".
- Famed in Story: Dax, at the end. Played for irony, as the Federation trumpets him as the champion of the very ideals he was shown to be very cynical towards in life.
- Fan Disservice: A hot blonde female trooper walking around naked? Hell yeah. The said trooper also covered in blood and being infected with a bug in her brain? Yeesh.
- Foreshadowing: Done in a very subtle manner, with the medic going straight for the sugar cubes when they come to the mess hall. (Those infected with the parasite are later seen eating the sugar cubes as well.)
- Four-Star Badass: General Shepherd seems like this at first. He eventually becomes the movie's Big Bad after he gets infected, and gives the heroes a pretty nasty Hannibal Lecture.
- Hive Mind: The General (who's been infected by a mind-control bug) uses this as a justification for exterminating humanity:General Jack Gordon Shephard: "Poor creatures. Why must we destroy you? I'll tell you why. Order is the tide of creation. But yours is a species that worships... the one over the many. You glorify your intelligence... because it allows you to believe anything. That you have a destiny. That you have a right. That you have a cause. That you are special. That you are great. But in truth, you are born insane. And such misery... cannot be allowed... to spread!"
- Humanity Is Insane: The Arachnids (or Bugs) use this as a justification for attacking and taking over humanity. See Hive Mind for the full quote.
- Ignore the Fanservice: Captain Dax, a disgraced but still badass veteran soldier, is approached by a female trooper who wants to bed him in order to implant him with an alien parasite. He rejects her advances and instead orders her to do 200 push-ups so she can work off all her "excess energy" as he nonchalantly walks away.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Sandee, under the control of a Puppeteer Parasite, sings "Itsy Bitsy Spider" before trying to take out Dax and Sahara with a pair of live grenades.
- Iwo Jima Pose: Used in the opening. And then subverted with a Match Cut to a flag, similarly positioned, with a small group of ragged troopers rallying around it trying to hold off a bug swarm.
- Just Following Orders: Dax levels a pretty powerful "Reason You Suck" Speech on Lt. Dill after he uses this excuse.Dax: Well, that's good, but you forgot about the children.
Dax: Cowards; they always hide behind two things: orders and children.
- Kiss of Death: One of the Puppeteer Parasite-like aliens is transferred this way, from a female soldier who was walking around stark naked.
- Meat Puppet: Control Bugs take over an entire outpost of Mobile Infantry soldiers and pit them against the main characters.
- Mythology Gag: The Control Bugs first appeared in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles.
- The Neidermeyer: Lieutenant Pavlov Dill was one of these, though he's more incompetent than mean.
- New Meat: A soldier says "Grow up big and strong, we need fresh meat for the grinder" to a newly-born child in the arms of its mother.
- Orifice Invasion: The movie introduces a breed of bugs that enter through the mouth to control the humans (it was also a convenient way to save on the special effects).
- Physical Fitness Punishment: Played With. A group of troopers are cooped up in an abandoned outpost waiting for rescue, and a comely female troopernote makes a pass at Captain Dax, claiming that she needs to burn off "excess energy." So he decides to help her out by having her do a hundred pushups as he walks off.
- Propaganda Hero: Captain Dax is hailed as a true "Hero of the Federation" after his death. In reality, he detested the Federation and what it stood for. Before the heroes stumble across him, Dax was disgraced and arrested for killing his superior officer because he refused to carry out his illegal orders.
- Psychic Powers: Lieutenant Dill has psychic abilities as well. sort of. At the very least, he can "sense" oncoming swarms of bugs. Sahara, too. When she tells the lieutenant that she's pregnant, he informs her that pregnancy has been known to enhance psychic abilities.
- Puny Earthlings: Played straight: when the Puppeteer Parasites take over a new host, they become much harder to kill.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The plot revolves around the Bugs infiltrating the human camp with these type of bugs at a remote outpost.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Pavlov Dill is a self-important jerk who makes a big deal out of his own not-so-extraordinary psychic powers and is dismissive of Sahara for failing her psychic assessment test. However, once Sahara does convince him that she is a psychic, he becomes quite supportive and tries to help her interpret the visions she's been having. He then tries to take action against the Puppeteer Parasite bugs but by then, it is too late. At least he was Defiant to the End.
- Sarcastic Title: While Captain Dax was a genuine war hero, he hated the Federation and would have detested the epithet bestowed on him post-mortem.
- Slashed Throat: Dill gets offed this way by a bug-controlled soldier.
- Tattered Flag: Shown in an ironic transition shot. After a propaganda reel espousing the virtues of the war against the Arachnids, a proud and neat Federation flag turns into the flag flown by a battlefield unit, torn and weathered.
- They Would Cut You Up: Former Jerkass Lieutenant Pavlov Dill uses these exact words when he finds that the rest of the soldiers (all infected by mind-control Control Bugs) have infected Gen. Shepherd with the Arachnids' plan being to send him back to the Federation so he can infect other Federation leaders and take over the world. His threats are cut short when another infected soldier slowly walks behind him and slits his throat, making it Redemption Equals Death:Pavlov: "You bastards... you are all under arrest for murder, sedition, for treason against the Federation. Oh! You're going to pay... because we're not going to kill you... oh no... you see, we got special places for things like you... where they cut you up, but they keep you alive when they cut you up... so they can see what makes you tick, and then what makes you sick! And I will be there, oh yeah! I'm going to be there when they see—" (threat cut short by infected soldier cutting his throat).
- Think of the Children!: Mocked by the cynical, disgraced Captain Dax when one of his superiors berates him for having refused to follow illegal orders. According to him, cowards hide behind one of two things: orders and children.
- Tone Shift: Hero Of The Federation is a horror film rather than a war film like its predecessor.
- Vasquez Always Dies: The only person to get off the planet alive is a pregnant woman. Must be all those maternal instincts keeping the bugs away.