At last, 15 years later, there's a true sequel to Paul Verhoeven's cult classic Starship Troopers. We saw the whole film at San Diego Comic Con, and we're happy to report that not only is it a close follow-up to the original film — it also uses CG animation to create something very close to Robert A. Heinlein's original vision.
Johnny Rico is back!
Starship Troopers: Invasion takes place ten years after the 1997 film. Johnny Rico is a high-ranking general in the Terran Federation, Carmen Ibanez is the captain of her own starship, and the ever creepy Carl Jenkins is more powerful than ever.
Jenkins is now the Minister of Paranormal Warfare, and is one of the most prominent figures in the Terran Federation. He's also the source of many problems for the characters. Jenkin's flirtation with bug minds leads Rico and Ibanez on a rescue mission to prevent a brain bug-controlled starship from crashing into Earth. Neil Patrick Harris returns to voice Carl Jenkins, and Casper Van Dien takes back the role of an older, eye-patch wearing General Rico.
In a much closer imitation of Heinlein's novel, each trooper gets outfitted with a power suit. Shinji Aramaki designed the power suits, with Aramaki also creating the armor designs for the upcoming Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.
During the course of the movie, we get to see an excellent orbital drop scene, one that feels ripped directly from Heinlein's vision. The scene culminates in a release of several Mechs, with Johnny Rico taking control of the mechanized beasts to join the battle.
The movie introduces several new troopers including a Rico-style warrior named Hero. And Trigg, a sniper-gun wielding woman who's one of the main characters of the movie.The tension between Rico and Carmen is still there, but it's never pushed to the fore.
The starship exterior scenes look stunning — a lot of feature films would be lucky to have visuals of this quality. All of the characters have a convincing amount of scarring and distinction, plus we didn't notice any "uncanny valley" issues. Starship Troopers: Invasion is the type of CG-animated movie many of us expected and wanted Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to be — it just took an extra 11 years to get there.
The film lacks the propaganda elements of the first Starship Troopers movie — one of my favorite aspects, but a sore spot for many viewers. There is a short homage to the propaganda videos, but their absence removes a lot of the "camp" factor from Invasion. While the propaganda shorts are gone, the movie does find a way to squeeze in two very awkward CGI shower scenes as a nod to the original film.
Starship Troopers: Invasion will see limited theatrical release, with a DVD and Blu-ray release on August 28th. Trailer and images courtesy of Sony Pictures.