STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION
Directed by Phil Tippett
Produced by Jon Davison
Written by Ed Neumeier
Director of Photograpy Christian Sebalot
Music by John Morgan & William Stromberg
Cast: Richard Burgi, Lawrence Monoson, Ed Lauter, Brenda Strong & Colleen Porch
2004/92 mins/Color/5.1 DD/DTS 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD
Several years ago, I screened STARSHIP TROOPERS for a friend, despite the fact that he was reluctant to watch it. Once the film was over, he excitedly asked, "When is the sequel coming out?!" I informed him that there wouldn't be a sequel, as the film hadn't performed very well at the box-office. Well, now Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment has proven me wrong by releasing STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION, a film which shares the same monsters as the first film, but little else.
STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 takes place a few years after the events of the first film. Having won a victory over the Bugs, the Mobile Infantry has now pushed into the Bug Quarantine Zone. As the film opens, a platoon, led by General Shepherd (Ed Lauter) and Lieutenant Dill (Lawrence Monoson), are fighting a losing battle against the Bugs. General Shepherd orders a retreat and the group flee to a nearby abandoned outpost. They secure themselves in the building and begin to explore it. Deep inside the base, they find Captain Dax (Richard Burgi) locked in the incinerator, having been accused of murdering his commanding officer. Dax is released and proves to be an asset in fighting off the bugs, and saving a group of stragglers who arrive at the outpost. However, it soon becomes clear that there's something different about these new soldiers. Private Sahara (Colleen Porch), a low-level psychic, begins to fear that something awful is going to help, and attempts to enlist the reclusive Dax help her save the group.
When a sequel becomes a carbon-copy of an earlier film, no one wins and the filmmakers are usually accused of simply remaking the movie in an attempt to make more money. STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 avoids this pitfall by running in the other direction. This movie is incredibly different from the original movie. STARSHIP TROOPERS was a sprawling war movie which offered huge battle scenes while telling a story that contained subtle and not-so-subtle political and social references. The sequel opens with a small-scale battle sequence and then moves in-doors to become more of a suspense film than an action movie. The claustrophobic setting filled with soldiers who don't trust one-another is very reminiscent of THE THING and ALIENS, with a dose of THE HIDDEN thrown in. The story takes the focus off of the Bugs and the war and places it on the soldiers and their plight.
Yet, this change in scope hasn't produced a very good movie. One of the biggest problems with STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 is the familiarity of the story. Not only does the movie resemble other sci-fi films (as noted above), but it liberally takes ideas from them as well. Only the most inexperienced movie-goer won't be able to predict what's going to happen in the film once the whole story is revealed. For a big, action film, STARSHIP TROOPERS did a great job of making us care about and understand the characters. We get little of that here. The compound is filled with soldiers, and we only get to know a handful of them, and those characters are merely stereotypes. STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 was written by Ed Neumeier, who also wrote the first film, as well as ROBOCOP, but he displays no originality here. Special effects wizard Phil Tippett takes over the directorial reigns here, and while he keeps things moving along, the weak story and limited budget stop him from making any sort of mark. Those looking for more of what made STARSHIP TROOPERS great will be very disappointed by this loose sequel. If STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 hadn't been pimped as a sequel to a cult classic, it could be viewed as a fairly decent sci-fi/action film, but when compared to the original, this entry needs to be discharged.
STARSHIP TROOPERS 2 invades DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on high-definition digital video, which makes the amount of grain in the image very surprising. Here comes the true litmus test -- without prompting, my wife said, "Why is this so grainy?" The grain is more prevalent in the exterior sequences, but it's noticeable as well when the action moves inside. Other than that overt flaw, the image is sharp and solid with good colors and rich dark areas. In contrast, the audio on this DVD rocks! The disc contains both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track as well as a DTS 5.1 track. Both provide great sound with clear dialogue and crisp surround effects. But, the DTS track is almost too loud, as the subwoofer effects are truly wall-shaking and the constant surround sound action will have you ducking in fear of being hit by flying debris.
The DVD contains a handful of extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Phil Tippett, writer Ed Neumeier, and producer Jon Davison. This is a good-natured talk, but it's clear that these guys weren't happy with the budget on the film, weren't pleased that they were forced to cast certain actors, and, if one reads between the lines, weren't crazy about the overall film. They do a good job of discussing the frenzied low-budget shoot and what the production was like for the actors, but the barely concealed bitterness makes this an odd listen. Next up is "Inside the Federation", which is a 30-minute "making of" featurette. This features the typical clips and behind-the-scenes footage, as well as comments from most of the cast and crew. This segment looks as the making of the movie, as well as the production design, the stuntwork, and the special effects. "From Green Screen to Silver Screen" (9 minutes) offers a look as how the special effects shots are made by putting several elements together and is narrated by Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Leven. The extras are rounded out by a still gallery and the trailer for STARSHIP TROOPERS 2, which is letterboxed at 1.78:1.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©