When I first saw Starship Troopers on its theatrical release in 1997, I didn't know what to make of it. I wasn't quite sure I liked it. World War 2 set in the future, with the enemy as giant cockroaches? Now that I've seen it a few times and I understand the "propaganda film" undertones and the tongue-in-approach to the earnestness of the characters, I love it. Since the movie was a hit, I think everyone expected a sequel sooner than later -- and certainly a trip to the theater to see it.
Instead, Starship Troopers 2 took its own sweet time in getting made and is going straight to DVD. Although original director Paul Verhoeven is not involved, he gave his blessing to the project and handed the mantle to Phil Tippett, whose company created the visual effects for the first film. For the most part, the Oscar-winning Tippett succeeds in delivering a worthy successor.
Starting off much like the first film, with a sardonic 'Uncle Sam Wants You' advert for the army of the future, Starship Troopers 2 cuts to the chase right away. A bombardment of blood, guts, and bug goo in a frontal assault goes on for several minutes. Despite the nonstop action, the movie actually feels pretty boring at first. You don't really know who anyone is, much less care about them.
A bunch of nameless troopers are getting badly beaten by the bugs, so they scurry off to a nearby outpost in search of safety. Needless to say, the do find shelter -- but not safety. When three unknown soldiers take refuge with the Starship Troopers, their secret is soon revealed in a hail of blood, bug legs, and slimy goop. This is when the movie starts getting good, and it keeps getting better.
Taking place almost exclusively inside the outpost, Starship Troopers 2 has a significantly starker, darker, and cheaper look to it than part one did. Still, the austerity adds to the look and feel, bringing home the message that the war with the bugs isn't going that well. The second cast doesn't have the same cache as the first, but every actor is very good. Each one plays his or her part with believable gusto. Richard Burgi, Ed Lauter, Sandrine Holt, Brenda Strong, Kelly Carlson, Billy Brown, Cy Carter, JP Manoux -- all of them went the extra mile for this low budget sequel, elevating it to something a little more.
The special effects are mostly good; the small, slick, slimy bugs are better than the big, bombarding army of insects. There are some scenes that will definitely turn your tummy, so if you're squeamish you might want to save this DVD till after the dinner hour.
This widescreen DVD is special edition (I'm not aware of another version, so I don't know what makes this one "special") that has audio commentary from Tippet, the screenwriter Edward Neumeier, and the producer Jon Davison. The commentators have some really interesting things to say about the making of the movie, the actors, and the special effects. They also explain some of the hidden meanings behind the character's names, and the homages to other movies within the scenes. They also share some fun "behind the scenes" anecdotes -- it's definitely worth a listen. On the other hand, the "Inside the Federation" is pretty standard fare.
Review by Staci Layne Wilson for Horror.com