The writer of Robocop and the original Starship Troopers is bringing his bizarro brand of political satire to Starship Troopers III, his directorial debut. We'd been lukewarm about yet another direct-to-DVD sequel of Paul Verhoeven's classic actioner, but the clips and Q&A with Ed Neumeier, plus stars Jolene Blalock and Casper Van Dien, went a long way toward changing our minds. Details and pics after the jump.
Van Dien is back, after skipping Troopers II, as Johnny Rico. And Blalock plays Capt. Lola Beck, a pilot. Here's how Blalock describes her character: "She's a no-nonsense staraight shooter, who shoots from the hip but also has a heart of gold." Neumeier, who also wrote the script for Troopers II, says Sony realized it skimped on the budget for the (fairly successful) second movie, so there's more money this time around.
Starship Troopers III is much truer to the original Heinlein book than the first two movies, Van Dien and Neumeier both stressed. We might actually get to see the power suits that Heinlein talks about in the book. "I feel a great debt to the fans of the novel," said Neumeier. "I adore the novel. I read it when i was 13."
Neumeier sees the Troopers trilogy as a sort of history of war movies. The first Starship Troopers is sort of a riff on World War II movies, partly motivated by Verhoeven's desire to deal with the experience of Germans in the mid-1930s, when the Nazis were rising to power. The second Troopers is more of a Korean war movie. And the third one is much more of a Vietnam war film, dealing with issues of religion and politics. It's also about "how the state can use religion both badly, and for good."
This time around, it's eleven years later and the war is not going so well. There's much less public support for the war effort than there was in the first movie, said Van Dien.
Also, there are three new types of bugs, two of which appeared in the clips we saw at Wondercon. One new bug is called a Bombadier, and it's a sort of ball that lands among a group of human soldiers and then explodes (one human throws himself onto it and sacrifices himself for the others), then grows into a big eyestalk that shoots white fire.
Another clip showcased Neumeier's trademark zany fake TV coverage, with a fake news segment about the new Q-bomb, which can destroy an entire planet. Some religious fanatics say humans shouldn't have the right to choose which planets live and which ones die, but others say the Q-bomb may finally help destroy the bugs once and for all. And then there's a recruiting segment for the Fleet, which parodies all those "Army of One" spots for the U.S. Army and emphasizes that 16-year-olds can join. It ends with someone saying, "See you in the Cockpit!"
Both Van Dien and Neumeier said they would like to make a Troopers TV series.
Neumeier said he got lots of advice from Verhoeven, who read the script and told him, "You look frightened, and you should be." He talks often to "Uncle Paul."
Someone asked Blalock why she gravitates toward so many science fiction roles. She said:
The reason I've done a lot of science fiction is because my first big job was Star Trek, [so] a lot of the offers i get are science fiction. The universe shines down on me, in a psychobabble way. That's what's inside me, and so that's what the universe offers me.
So there you go.