In the immortal words of Sergeant Rasczak: “Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?”
Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 satirical sci-fi war movie Starship Troopers may not have been a smash hit at the time, critical response was all over the place, but it’s certainly developed a cult following over the years. It’s a movie I’m definitely quite fond of, and right now I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was originally released nearly twenty years ago.
Starship Troopers, much like The Crow, did not get any sequels (I don’t care what you say), but is in the process of being rebooted. The Hollywood Reporter are reporting that Columbia Pictures have tasked the screen writing pair of Mark Swift and Damian Shannon with preparing a script for a feature film, and with the hope that it could potentially launch a new franchise.
They’re not exactly prolific writers, but horror aficionados may be familiar with the pairs’ work on Freddy vs. Jason and the Friday the 13th reboot. They’re currently wrapping up work on the Baywatch reboot, and are also working on the script for Genie – a remake of the Disney classic Aladdin – and Power and Glory – based on the graphic novel by Howard Chaykin.
Also on board is the veteran producer Neal H. Moritz (Fast & Furious franchise, among many, many others – take a look at that link if you don’t believe me), and he’s reuniting with his Total Recall reboot producing partner Toby Jaffe – which was another Verhoeven classic sci-fi movie. Moritz has obviously been working on this for a while, as last year he was quoted as developing a Starship Troopers reboot for either the big or small screen.
And it is going to be a reboot, not a remake, as the new version is said to be aiming at being a closer take on the source material – Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel – than Verhoeven’s interpretation. That’s something Verhoeven himself didn’t really do, saying about the novel:
I stopped after two chapters because it was so boring,…It is really quite a bad book. I asked Ed Neumeier to tell me the story because I just couldn’t read the thing. It’s a very right-wing book.
The Starship Troopers movie actually started out based on a script titled ‘Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine’, and was retrofitted with the details and characters from Heinlein’s Hugo Award-winning novel when the similarities between the two were noticed and the licensing rights subsequently procured.
The novel dealt with a number of themes that are still very relevant today – individual and social responsibility, militarism and limited democracy. In the world Heinlein imagined citizenship, and subsequently the right to vote, was earned through public or military service and not, as he once said, granted to anyone “who is 18 years old and has a body temperature near 37 °C”. Verhoeven’s movie satirised the dangers inherent in those themes through its gung-ho military display, the propaganda video inserts and the Nazi-inspired uniforms that dialed up the fascism to over 9,000.
I think it’s fair to say that the recent reboots of Verhoeven-directed movies like RoboCop and Total Recall have not been great. He even pointed out why he thought the reboots failed to connect with modern audiences, which includes a large number of people who saw the originals, saying, “so they take these somewhat absurd stories and make them much too serious. I think that is a mistake”. I agree completely, and in this case his point is rather important since Heinlein’s novel isn’t exactly regarded as a beacon of progressive thinking – and a satirical take on its themes is the best way to handle theme, provided you’re dealing with them at all.
What do you think? They’ve gotten it wrong twice now, is the third time is the charm?
And before we go, let’s take a trip down memory lane with the trailer for the only Starship Troopers movie:
Last Updated: November 4, 2016