Release Date(s)1997 (August 5, 2008)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
Starship Troopers is an absolutely fascinating movie. Based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein, director Paul Verhoeven’s big screen adaptation (adapted by screenwriter Ed Neumeier) would seem to be an exercise in over-the-top excess. And it is. But there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface here, if you care to look for it. Here’s a bit from Adam Jahnke’s excellent DVD review of the film...
“Verhoeven and Neumeier draw inspiration from the propaganda films of both sides of World War II, the American Why We Fight series and Leni Riefenstahl’s bone chilling Nazi classic Triumph of the Will. Sure, the enemy is literally dehumanized in Starship Troopers, but so are the humans. This is conveyed through the perfect casting of living Ken and Barbies like Van Dien and Richards. The FedNet News Feeds that pop up throughout the film are hilarious and serve to deepen our understanding of how this brutal utopia really works. And just in case you’ve somehow still managed to miss the point, Verhoeven has the audacity to dress Doogie Howser himself in full SS regalia for the movie’s third act. Back in ‘97, a lot of critics condemned Verhoeven for making a “pro-fascist” movie, a charge I simply didn’t understand at all. It seems clear to me that the audience is meant to enjoy and cheer on all the carnage and bloodshed in Starship Troopers, but by the end of the movie, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, you should be asking yourself, “What the hell was I doing and who are these creeps I’ve been rooting for?”
Sony’s new Blu-ray Disc version of Starship Troopers is available by itself, and also in a Starship Troopers High-Definition Trilogy 3-pack with both sequels on Blu-ray. The high-definition transfer looks, in my opinion, nothing short of spectacular. Color is incredibly vibrant and accurate, and contrast is excellent throughout. Very light (to occasionally moderate) grain is visible, rendering a very film-like image. Even better, the print is clean and excellent fine image detail is visible from start to finish. It’s not going to compare to a new film shot in high-definition digital video, but for a photochemical film that’s over ten years old, it looks just as it should... and that’s damn nice to me. Audio is included in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and the mix is the perfect match to the visuals, with a big, wide front soundstage, excellent bass and first-rate clarity. The rear channels aren’t quite as active as they are in some newer surround mixes, but they’re still lively and offer nice a nice sense of immersion. And the bass is appropriately thunderous.
In terms of extras, nearly everything that was on Sony’s previous 2-disc DVD special edition is available here, but there are a couple things missing. First, you don’t get the isolated music score (with commentary by composer Basil Poledouris) that was on Disc One of the DVD. You also don’t get the extensive conceptual artwork galleries that were on Disc Two of the DVD. What that means is that you can’t get rid of either disc if you really want all the available extras. (You can, however, ditch the previous movie-only SuperBit DVD edition if you have it.) On the other hand, the Blu-ray Disc does give you a few new items exclusive to this edition, including an interactive Recruitment Test trivia challenge, the FedNet Mode picture-in-picture viewing option (that seems to include significant new video-based interviews and other behind-the-scenes material), a Blu-Wizard access option that allows you to create a custom playlist of all the extras you wish to experience, and also BD-Live enhancement. The main BD-Live feature currently being promoted by the studio is a Join the Fight option, that allows you to upload your photo and insert it into the movie in key scenes (the BD-Live functionality will be enabled on street date, so I haven’t tried it yet).
I do wish everything from the DVD had been included, but what you get here – particularly the video and audio quality – is so good that picking up this new Blu-ray should be a no-brainer for fans. Would you like to know more? (Hint: Yes, you would!)
- Bill Hunt