Wednesday, August 6, 2008

STARSHIP TROOPERS 3: MARAUDER

The second direct-to-video sequel to 1997's sci-fi actioner, STARSHIP TROOPERS, has just been released on DVD by Sony Home Entertainment. Casper Van Dien reprises the role of Johnny Rico ten years after his star turn in the original film, this time joined by Jolene Blalock of TV's ENTERPRISE and a number of mostly unknown co-stars.

It's about a decade since the events of the original film, and the war against the Bugs drags on. After a devastating defeat on a colony world, a Federation starship explodes over the planet OM-1, stranding the Federation's beloved leader Sky Marshal Anoke and several others, including sexy pilot Lola Beck. It's up to Colonel Johnny Rico, hero of the original Bug Invasion on Planet P, to lead a team of Troopers on a daring rescue mission.

Written and directed by Ed Neumeier, the screenwriter of the two previous films, STARSHIP TROOPERS 3: MARAUDER is a solid continuation of the franchise, much closer in tone to the first movie than the second installment was. Despite a considerably smaller budget, the production values are surprisingly decent, although the CGI alien "bugs" aren't quite as well executed this time around - the CGI models aren't as detailed or well-rendered as the ones in the previous installments.

Neumeier's script continues to mix gung ho military action with heavy amounts of social and political satire, and for the most part, it works. The acting is generally adequate, with Blalock something of a revelation, playing her part with some surprising toughness. Van Dien really doesn't look ten years older, but he gives a considerably more layered performance this time around, granting Rico some welcome maturity and perspective. Still, it's not Mamet – the dialogue is just as corny and cliche as in the original film, so if you decide to check it out, don't get your expectations get too high. Ultimately, it's just another DTV sequel to a 10-year-old cult SF film, a little better than most.

The Sony DVD looks great, as one would expect, with a perfectly fine1.85: anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Bonus features include a couple of commentary tracks with the director, Van Dien and Blalock, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a music video of a slyly witty song used prominently in the film.

For fans of the franchise, it's definitely worth checking out.

BUY: Starship Troopers 3: Marauder