We are sent back to the battlefield, as the Federation's best Mobile Infantry unit are slowly being overpowered by the killer bugs. They are light years from the nearest reinforcements and are trapped on a remote outpost. They set up protection around the post, keeping all the bugs waiting for them to leave. But now the enemy is in the outpost, in a way which they would have never thought of.
Directed by: Phil Tippett
. Starring: Billy Brown
, Richard Burgi
, Kelly Carlson
, Cy Carter
, Sandrine Holt
, Ed Lauter
, J.P. Manoux
, Lawrence Monoson
, Colleen Porch
, Drew Powell
, Ed Quinn
, Jason-Shane Scott
, Brenda Strong
. Music by: John W. Morgan
, William T. Stromberg
There is something distinctly droll and uninspiring about Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, the straight to video follow up to 1997's Starship Troopers, something distinctly droll that makes you wonder why nobody just turned to the camera and gave a wink about half way through. But in-between all the enthusiastic speaking, rousing orchestral music and daft salutes and smiles to other soldiers, I have a right to wonder if I did indeed miss a thumbs up to the screen or a wink of some sort. I don't think there's anything sinister going on in Starship Troopers 2, both on and beneath the surface. We never really feel as if anyone is in any jeopardy because we've seen the film before, done much better in the early 1980s and we know how it all plays out. Then there is the clumsy immediate ending which finishes the film on an odd note, bringing our attention to army recruitment.
But I'll get to that. The film actually opens in the same manner it finishes and that's with a VT sequence updating us on the war the human's are fighting with the bugs and the general situation. There is some dramatic voice-over work which comes across as quite funny and the summing up of the VT is best done through one such quote from the VT itself that exclaims we should 'Get ready to take the fight to the bug!' or something of that order. The sheer upbeat manner in which the VT is delivered, complete with repetitive 'would you like to know more?' quote and the colourful, eye pleasing nature of the images likes to think it's setting its audience up for a huge juxtaposition but instead it merely sets the soppy tone for the rest of the film; something you can take quite lightly.
But could this have been the point? If it was, the filmmakers aren't fooling anyone anymore and surely they couldn't have believed it would've worked again following the first Starship Troopers film and the manner in which it had a pop at army recruitment videos whilst delivering an antiwar film. The reason I say this is because Starship Troopers 2 isn't really a war film of sorts and quickly turns into a survival horror piece. The film has nothing to do with events and characters from the first film but uses the plot set up of the bugs and the humans being at war with one another although leaves out all the dialogue required to set up a scenario and just throws us into the battlefield. If we haven't seen the first one then we're in big trouble and the filmmakers assume that if you are here, then you have seen the first one.
So there is one minute error and an inconsiderate fabrication on the director's behalf in the sense he wants to skip straight to the action. Given the path the film goes down when it enters 'The Thing' territory, further disappointment is to come. What follows is a group of human soldiers on this oddball planet invested with bugs. Why are they there and what are they fighting for? The planet is dead and empty. After too many bugs overpower the human resistance, they flee and a huge storm that for some reason doesn't suck up the bugs forces them to take cover in an outpost closely resembling a lighthouse.
To say that the film then takes on the identity of 1982's The Thing would be stating the blindingly obvious. The one thing The Thing had going for it, above the likes of Alien and Predator for instance, was the fact the anti-human ingredient of the piece could well be right in front of you and you'd never know it. It could be disguised as another human and nobody would ever know which made for some pretty decent scenes. Starship Troopers 2 copies the idea but knows it's been done already. Thus, it takes us for fools and piles on more bloodshed; more gore and more gross out to try and evoke a reaction. The difference here is they get their reaction thanks to the bloodshed but not through anything particularly clever. You can imagine this film being the kind in which more thought and attention is put towards how gross or real the gore will look as opposed to anything else.
Before this the character of Capt. V.J. Dax (Burgi) is introduced in a manner that forces us to consider him an antihero, it reeks of 2000's Pitch Black, another film Starship Troopers 2 takes a lot of inspiration from. But Dax isn't all that bad really, and despite the early 'tense' build up he's actually kind of harmless. You get the obligatory ego driven scenes between soldiers when he gets going and for the record, Dax doesn't have an inch on Riddick. What follows is a series of incidences in which the bugs attempt to pollute the remaining humans by feeding insects to them -' if you haven't finished the pizza you cooked beforehand so that you could enjoy it with this guilty pleasure of a film then it won't be pleasant; for everyone else, it's more gross out content designed to get a grindhouse style reaction along with logic such as: a frying pan to the head will kill one of the monsters but a lagre metal pole will not.
A word on the closing VT; shot shortly after the Iraq War began, the film's narrative may end on a closed note but the fight seemingly goes on and the marching boots and encouragement to 'join' bears some pretty obvious Iraq War connections as America et al enter a new fight. Its inclusion could be said for the whole film: sloppy and ill-timed.
Review by johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England from the Internet Movie Database.