Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008)

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008)

You know what to do. Get in there and Kill em all.

Colonel Johnny Rico, the hero of Planet P, has been stationed on a new planet where the local farmers are not happy with the Federation for drawing them into the war against the bugs. The Federation executes anyone with strong dissenting voices in an effort to maintain control. So when Rico stops a senior officer from killing a citizen in a fight, he is sentenced to death. However, contact has been lost with Sky Marshal Anoke, a hugely popular figure in the eyes of citizens and an important PR tool to keep support for the conflict going. His ship went down following a bug attack and Rico is spared from execution on the grounds that he leads the new Marauder squadron on a secret rescue mission to the planet.

 

Starship Troopers in 1997 was entertaining, if somewhat dumb and flawed at times. Hardly a patch on Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi classics like Robocop, the film still managed to include plenty of the satire he was famous for and was modesty successful in the box office, though its huge budget meant that it was less profitable than expected. I’m not quite sure whether it was ‘sequel worthy’ but in the realms of Hollywood, money talks and a straight-to-video sequel followed with about a quarter of the budget, none of the satire and none of the surviving stars.

Ed Neumeier (who scripted the first two films) steps up to the hot seat for this second sequel. The good news is that Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is slightly better than its predecessor, attempting to replicate more of what made the original a success. The overblown news reports make a welcome return after certain moments in the plot and there’s a smudge of the political satire that Verhoeven wove into the original. Casper Van Dien, whose star has faded dramatically since the original, is back on board and it’s blatantly obvious that he hasn’t taken any acting lessons in the meantime. Van Dien is wooden, relying heavily on his machismo and gung-ho bravado to get him through to the end rather than any explosive delivery. But at least the character does provide some continuity, tying it closer to the original than it has any right to be.

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder suffers from a terrible plot structure. The opening with the bugs attacking the outpost is done well enough and holds promise that the film will provide even bigger and better set pieces later on. However this never comes to fruition. On diminished budget, there’s only so much that Starship Troopers 3: Marauder can do and it tries to spend the next eighty minutes or so avoiding showing anything remotely exciting (i.e. costly with special effects!). Apart from one or two moments of chaos, the majority of the humans versus bugs battles seem rather low key. Epic battles with once-formidable armies of bugs which stretched as far as the eye can see have been replaced by minor skirmishes between handfuls of soldiers and the odd bug or two. The entire scope of the film has been severely undercut by the budget, leaving the audience with a few tasters of what they might have expected.

Though Van Dien is quite possibly one of the worst actors to have managed to get some high paid gigs in his time, he’s still suitable for the requirements of the role and sadly, the film needed more of him (damn, I never thought I’d say that). He’s sidelined as the main story arc follows Sky Marshal Anoke and his fellow survivors as they attempt to hold out on the planet and wait for rescue. Though the survivors contain the likes of Jolene Blalock (the hot Vulcan from Star Trek: Enterprise), there’s little meat to the characters beyond the stereotypes you’ll expect from them the moment you see who survived the crash. Neumeier’s inexplicable decision to have the characters suffer from a religious crisis and eventual spiritual reawakening is bizarre, adding an extra layer of unnecessary waffle to the already nauseating political statements. You never get who is supposed to be the main character here: Rico, Anoke or Beck. The script takes it in turns to give each of them the spotlight but then dramatically shifts to another character.

Even the ‘marauders’ that the title refers to don’t make an appearance until the final fifteen minutes – no doubt budgetary constraints have restricted the appearance of these CGI mechs but they should have either included them in the film more, albeit even mentioning them earlier on, or simply change the title. The climactic battle is grossly underwhelming, ending in little more than a few minutes of badly-rendered CGI nonsense amidst two characters praying for their lives.

 

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is better than the first sequel and that’s about as much as I can say about it. Neumeier tries his best to resurrect the series with a tone more in line with that of the original but you’re just better off watching that again if you want to watch it done properly.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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