Apr 30, 2010

[Movies] Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)Sometimes I just don't get it why studios even bother with creating certain sequels when they do so half-heartedly. This appears to be most true in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy movies since the studios tend to go all-out with the initial releases and then scrimp on the sequel. And thus we will routinely see (1) a re-shuffling of the cast, (2) scaling down of visual effects and (3) a really bad, half-baked plot. It's like the studios want the movie to fail, if you catch my drift here.

The final nail in the coffin will always be the decision for this sequel to go the direct-to-video route, as if the producers are shamed that this movie is actually getting made and they don't want to show it off in the theaters. Like the stereotypical red-headed child in the family, these expansions of existing movie franchises are supposedly presented as low-risk ventures for studios that should manage to make a cheap profit due to the sheer morbid curiosity of fans.

Yes, like a moth to the flame we can't help but wonder these sequels will be like and yet still complain when they turn out as bad (or even worse) as was expected.

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is the direct-to-video sequel of the first film that came out around 7 years later. While the first movie was only loosely based on the original Robert Heinlein novel, this sequel had absolutely nothing to do with it and that lack of a foundation made it even worse, I suppose.

In the movie, a squad of soldiers is on the run from an overwhelming force of alien bugs. Despite new laser technology to assist them, they're still hopelessly outnumbered. General Shepherd (Ed Lautner) calls for a general retreat and retains a smaller group of elite soldiers to delay the bugs while the rest of the unit escapes. They eventually seek refuge at Hotel Delta 1-8-5 and there find Captain V.J. Dax (Richard Burgi), a disgraced but brilliant soldier who was convicted of killing his commanding officer and was thus left imprisoned. Dax quickly takes command from the less-savvy officer, Lieutenant Pavlov Dill (Lawrence Monoson). Dill is a psychic who is constantly troubled by disturbing visions and much of his aggressions gets taken out on Private Lei Sahara (Colleen Porch), who appears to be having visions of her own.

As tense as things are at the bunker, things get stranger when Shepherd returns with three other soldiers - a tech, a medic and an unconscious private. With their return, they're able to restore communications and call for rescue from the Fleet and thus getting home becomes only a question of time. However the newcomers are all behaving rather strangely and this pattern starts to catch on with other members of the squad. Only Private Sahara seems to be picking up on the changes and thus it falls to her to figure out what's going on.

The extreme differences in budget for this sequel versus the first film were extremely evident given most of the movie takes place in Hotel Delta instead of outside with massive armies of bugs. There was clearly an attempt to try and capture some of the thriller nature of other science fiction movies like Aliens but rather failed in that attempt. It didn't help that a lot of the acting was extremely hammy and there was very little chemistry between the characters. Heck, they all seemed to be acting rather "strangely" all throughout the film and the supposedly subtle shift in behavior was sometimes lost due to poor performance.

The overall story was a tad odd and pretty much a rehash of other science fiction stories we all may have encountered in the past. It didn't even feel like it was truly set in the Starship Troopers universe and were it not for the title of he movie, I would have thought this was a completely different science fiction franchise all together. And a very bad one at that.

Of course, the movie did have its little moments. The opening sequence was a bit reminiscent of the original StarCraft game at some points (which itself was reminiscent of the original Starship Troopers movie). But most of the budget went into the new type of bug introduced in this movie and so that meant less outdoor fight scenes with hordes and hordes of the classic warrior bugs. We didn't even get to see much of the Fleet out in space and ended up feeling stuck in the bunker they used as a shelter.

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is a sad, sad chapter in the science fiction world and an insult to the original novel the series was based on. It gets 1.5 direct-to-video science fiction movie tropes out of 5.

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