Starship Troopers (1997)
Starship Troopers is a 1997 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Ed Neumeier, based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein. Set in the 23rd century, the film follows the exploits of teenager, Johnny Rico, and his friends while serving in the military under the Earth world government, the United Citizen Federation. Humanity’s exploration and colonisation of outer space brings them into conflict with an alien species, known as Arachnids, leading to an interstellar war. It stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Muldoon, and Michael Ironside.
Development of Starship Troopers began in 1991 as a separate project called Bug Hunt at Outpost 7, written by Neumeier. Producer Jon Davison noticed many similarities between Neumeier’s work and Heinlein’s book and had him re-work the script to more closely follow the novel and gain more interest from studio executives. Even so, development was slow, with studios remaining non-committal on funding the expensive project up to the filming date. Filming began in April 1996 on a $100–110 million budget, nearly half of which was committed to the extensive computer-generated (CGI) and practical effects required to vivify the Arachnid creatures, before concluding that October.
Starship Troopers was released on November 7, 1997, to negative reviews from critics who perceived the film as promoting fascism, including accusations against Verhoeven and Neumeier of being Nazis, as well as criticism over its violence and performances. The reviews and poor word-of-mouth led to box office grosses dropping week on week until it left theaters, earning $121 million and becoming only the 34th highest-grossing film of the year. Starship Troopers’s performance was blamed, in part, on competition from a high number of successful or anticipated science fiction and genre films released that year, and its satirical and violent content failure to connect with mainstream audiences. Verhoeven believed audience misconceptions about the film were the result of poor marketing that presented Starship Troopers as an action film instead of a satire.
Since its release, Starship Troopers has been critically re-evaluated, and is now considered a cult classic, one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, and a prescient satire of fascism and authoritarian governance that has grown in relevancy. The film helped launch a multimedia franchise that includes four sequels, Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004), Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008), Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012), and Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars (2017), as well as an animated television series, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (1999), video games, comics, and a variety of merchandise.
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