Another bug hunt

I have watched Starship Troopers: Invasion, yours in high definition for twenty bucks.

Trooper vs bug

In one sentence, it's the best ninety-minute video game cutscene I've seen this week.

This movie's a bit of an odd duck. It's a CGI cartoon, which nowadays pretty much guarantees that the general look of the thing will be fantastic...

Pretty ship

...(seriously, the ships in this thing are to die for), but that all of the people...

Sexy times

...will be wooden, and/or deep in the uncanny valley.

The humans in Starship Troopers: Invasion look great when they've got their bulky armour on, if a little overly fluid and dancer-ish in their movements. The bugs are excellent too, and yes, so is the power armour that does eventually show up. But when the humans are socialising, they're clearly not actually human. They're simultaneously sort of... imprecise... in their movements, and too smooth. Everybody's hair flowing like a waterfall doesn't help.

This situation is not improved by the leaden voice acting, which is at times even worse than the acting in Act Of Valor. There must be something really difficult about voice acting that I cannot grasp, because it's so often strangely terrible, as if actors lose the ability to act when they're in civvies looking at a microphone, rather than playing Let's Pretend in full costume and makeup.

At least this film doesn't have big-name Hollywood stars doing the sucky voice acting. That happens very often, too, in animated movies and in video games (I'm looking at you, Liam Neeson), and I find it even weirder.

You may or may not be pleased to learn, however, that the perviness of Paul Verhoeven's original movie survives in this one. This cartoon is rated R for violence, language and nudity. The girls have armour that looks pretty much like the boys', but they're 100% Stripperiffic when not suited for battle.

And yes, there's a shower scene, and yes, the virtual camera lingers more than long enough to demonstrate that modern CGI is entirely up to the job of creating a realistic, if largely expressionless, Interchangeable Porn Girl.

Pew pew, bitches!

There's a lot more shooting than stripping, though.

Nobody having anything to do with the previous movies had much to do with this one. Edward Neumeier and Casper Van Dien are "Executive producers", but they didn't write or act, or execute anything noticeable. Invasion was written by a guy with some... unusual... previous credits, and the production company doesn't have a fantastic résumé either. (Actually, there are two production companies, but the second one has apparently only done this film.)

Something to do with this, and the Japanese director, has given the movie a bit of an anime feel, but perhaps I'm only thinking that because of the bad acting and surprisingly frequent misspellings. (Who builds a heavily armed orbital base and misspells the word "satellite" in 40-foot-high letters on the outside of it?)

This film also contains the Worst Downgrade of a Neil Patrick Harris Character Ever. Io9 somehow got it into their heads that NPH was voicing Carl Jenkins, his character from the first film, but he isn't. Instead, the writer and a different actor conspire to bring us a stock unbalanced creepy necessary-evil scientist dude, instead of NPH's glorious leather-clad psychic alien-molester.

And, again, there is power armour, but not very much of it. The power armour is so well done, though, that I officially exclude it from my general rejection of skating mecha.

(With regard to the undersupply of power armour, which was one of the principal elements of Heinlein's original book, see also Starship Troopers 3. Or don't. It's better than Starship Troopers 2, but so is dysentery.)

Also, you'll be better off if you don't ask why anything happens in this movie. The beginning and the end actually pretty much make sense, but in the middle, minor things like the passage of time and the location of large space vessels become highly uncertain, in the service of Drama.

The actual firefights, of which there are a lot, don't make a lot of sense either. OK, maybe you don't send huge power-armour suits to board a spaceship, because they won't fit through the doors. But if you can make FTL spacecraft, you can probably make little robot drones to send into dark places possibly filled with terrifying aliens, rather than leading with your expensively-trained grunts.

Those grunts also, on top of the space-marine genre's traditionally indefinite amount of ammunition, have the remarkable ability to fight in a staggered line, firing on full auto and waving their guns from side to side, without ever hitting each other by mistake. Perhaps they have a sort of interrupter mechanism.

There are other significant points in this film's favour, though.

In your typical action movie, for instance, the big-name star will do ridiculously heroic things that implausibly snatch victory. In this movie, the heroic soldier usually just gets hideously murdered. Or they actually achieve their goal, but it turns out to make no real difference to anything.

(This film also contains a quite memorable invocation of Everyone Knows Morse.)

I'm nitpicking because that's what I do, but I actually did like this film. I gave it seven out of ten on IMDB, versus the 5.8 average of everyone else's votes.

I don't think I'd buy the Blu-Ray, but if screaming aliens and pew-pew spaceships appeal to you, it's definitely worth renting.

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