Starship Troopers â€“ American Monster Movies in the 1990s
We continue our analysis of giant-insect films into the end of the 20th century. Perhaps more than any other monster/sci-fi movie, the intent and message behind Starship Troopers has been debated vociferously. Paul Verhoeven’s other filmsâ€”RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Elle (2016)â€”could serve as clues to the subtext of Troopers.
This is the first film we’ll watch that uses CGI (computer-generated imagery) and creature effects developed by the Oscar-winning Phil Tippett (Return of the Jedi, Jurassic Park).
Watch Starship Troopers, always keeping in mind the basic bullet-point elements I’ve listed in previous weeks.
A) Come up with 3 discussion questions of your own that will start a good discussion. Answer 5 questions from below or another student.
What’s the relevance of the Port Joe Smith massacre to the present action of the film?
How do schools and the military work together, according to this film? Consider Mr. Rasczak, biology class, football.
Do you agree with the film’s definition of citizens versus civilians?
In this film, is sacrificing one’s life fighting bugs considered true heroism or a cynical waste of young bodies? Give two examples.
What does love do to the characters Carmen, Rico, Dizzy and Zander? Choose two to write about.
What are the qualities of an outstanding leader, according to this film? Give examples.
How are the female characters treated compared to the males in this film? Give examples.
Name three different camera techniques used in this film and describe when they’re used and their intended effect.
Analyze the sounds the bugs/arachnids make.
Compare the violence that the Alien and Arachnids inflict on humans.
A good 5-page essay topic would be an analysis of the recruiting videos inserted into the film. What is their role?
Analyze the different forms of Arachnids and their functions.
How does the outer-space setting make Alien and Starship Troopers different from other monster movies?
It turns out Military Intelligence has sent the Roughnecks as bait to check on Planet P’s intelligent life/Brain Bug. Unlike in Alien or Rambo, this doesn’t cause rage among the Roughnecksâ€”why not?
Compare Kane (Alien)’s funeral with the one in Troopers. This would make a great 5-page essay topic!
Comment on the humans’ treatment of the Brain Bug.
Given how society has dealt with the bugs in Them! and Starship Troopers, compare the concluding messages of each. What is the future of the human-bug conflict, according to each film?
B) Read Marsh article, http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/-em-starship-troopers-em-one-of-the-most-misunderstood-movies-ever/281236/ (Links to an external site.) AND Gordon/Nychus article, http://www.cracked.com/article_19259_6-mind-blowing-ways-starship-troopers-predicted-future.html (Links to an external site.) Comment on something in either of these readings that would stimulate an interesting discussion of Starship Troopers.
C) Respond to at least one other student’s post with polite agreement or disagreement, giving evidence for your point of view.
Peer’s post(should respond to this):
A. My Questions:
Rico joins the service because of his girlfriend, Carmen, and later comes to regret this decision and instead wants to go to college. Is this a lesson meant to warn about the dangers of making decisions based on relationships, or about not knowing yourself and relying on otherâ€s influences?
Compare the space suits in Alien and Starship Troopers: what are some major differences that also elude to the storyline?
Was it necessary to the plot for Rico and Dizzy to have sex? Why or why not?
Responses to Frako’s questions:
2. Specifically, the school and the military work together, as Ricoâ€s father says, as a â€œrecruiting stationâ€. In the biology class the students are dissecting insects while learning about how civilized their colonies technically are. The school does seem to be a major influence on people joining the federal services, itâ€s also interesting how their school is called an education center and not a high school. As for football the moves used in the game show up later during the â€œlaser tagâ€ scene and shows the importance of teamwork and comradery.
3. I do not agree with the filmâ€s definition of citizen versus civilian. Their idea of a citizen sounds very much so like the Ancient Romans who believed oneâ€s duty was to the republic and anything less was un-Roman. Although technically civilian is a word used to describe someone not in the military, the word citizen is technically still a synonym to it, not an antonym.
4. Ricoâ€s father thinks that fighting is a waste of human bodies, but the students and teachers at the education center teach it as true heroism. The recruiting videos also play a big part in showing how dying while fighting the insects is a heroic move. I think itâ€s intriguing how if someone goes into the service of the federation itâ€s a waste of a body, but if they go to university it isnâ€t. The educated parents (like Ricoâ€s) advocate he goes to Harvard, but the veteran service members recommend service.
9. The sounds the bugs make almost make them sound like dinosaurs. In contrast to the giant ants in Them! which make consistent chirping noises, the bugs in Starship Troopers make differentiating sounds, all with varying pitches of shrieking and roaring noises. When one of the bugs was dying it also made a hissing noise, similar to a snake warning off a predator.
15. Kaneâ€s funeral in Alien differs from Dizzyâ€s in that Dizzyâ€s was much more formal. For Dizzy there were salutes, coffin, a flag, etc. Outside of that, both bodies were sent into space and watched on by other crewmembers.
B. In the Atlantic article, it is mentioned that Starship Troopers critiques the idea of the military industrial complex. Meaning, the idea that participating in the army, and then making a career out of it, being beneficial. Itâ€s interesting to look at this especially since the film came our 4 years before 9/11 (as mentioned in the other article), but that the United States has had trouble differentiating service from the military industrial complex since President Eisenhower was in office decades ago.
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