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What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - Printable Version

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What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - Michael - December 6th, 2011

In case you missed the news last week, Sony Pictures revealed that Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller are working on a script for a reboot of the "Starship Troopers" franchise.

Reactions to 1997's Paul Verhoeven take on the classic Robert Heinlein novel were mixed. I enjoyed the movie but was nonetheless disappointed with its inability to pay more attention to a lot of the themes in the book. No need to go there.

If you have kept up with Xenite.Org's content through the years, you may recall that I was able to interview Ashley and Zack many years ago when they were working on Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. I was impressed with their work then. In the years since I have liked some of their work and not been too impressed with some recent efforts.

Then again, all movies are made by teams and a movie's success or failure depends in large part on the interplay between writers, actors, production crew, directors, etc. I'm not going to blame anyone for not satisfying me entirely. Zack and Ashley are good screenwriters/producers and they deserve a shot at rebooting the franchise.

But I think the big challenge here is that they still have to make hard choices. A lot of people say that the book's themes don't easily translate to the silver screen -- especially 50 years later in a post-Civil Rights/post Vietnam/post-a-lotta-history world where political sensitivities are very different from those of the late 1950s and early 1960s. I'm sure they'll focus on story first and politics second, but maybe I should just wait. Smile

What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - Agaricus - December 7th, 2011

Well... the movie was a perfectly acceptable s-f action action adventure film. Just as well Heinlein's political views were left out. I hated the book while I was reading it, but RAH was such a master story teller I could not stop reading it. As soon as I was finished I tossed it across the room into the trash can. (And I never throw books away.)

What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - Michael - December 7th, 2011

I wasn't too concerned about his political views. I have always felt the book could be read in one of two ways (which is probably why it was marketed as one of his "Juvenile" books). For me the political commentary on fascism was less important than the question about what mankind would do in a struggle to survive against an aggressive alien species. The fascism wasn't really presented as a solution to the competitive species problem. They could have been monarchists, dedicated democrats, socialists, etc. and still have the same problem.

The story seems to be about people pulling together, perhaps in spite of their political system, to find a way to survive in an increasingly complex universe. Was it well-written? Maybe only to the extent that we remember it and can talk about it, even if it's not on a favorite read list (I think I only read it once, although I kept the book for years).

What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - august - December 8th, 2011

See, I thought the political content was all over the movie, and made much more obvious...but done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion so that you could get into it... or wink at it. Like for example the costumes - I seriously doubt any reference was made in the books to the officers' uniforms looking very much like WW2 Nazi uniforms, but in the film they did.

As for that juvenile thing, I absolutely agree - I read it in my elementary school library, and never thought of it as anything but a gritty and realistic sci-fi adventure novel. I never heard anything (or perceived anything) about Heinlein's political views until I was in my 20's, especially since his last few novels (that I read as a teen) seemed to go in the opposite direction, i.e. very much in favor or free love and sexuality.

What do you think of the Starship Troops reboot? - Michael - December 9th, 2011

There were a couple of scenes in the movie that were almost taken out of the book where the political message was encapsulated. One was in the classroom where Michael Ironside discusses citizenship with the class.

Curiously, according to IMDB, Paul Verhoeven never finished reading the book and he decided to treat it satirically. That would support the viewpoint of the people who felt he was the wrong person to bring the story to the big screen. He obviously lacked the passion to explore Heinlein's vision.