This thing sucks. Would you like to know more?
How could such a promising idea of using CG animation to tell a full-fledged adventure fall so far off the mark? One of the many problems with the direct-to-video Starship Troopers sequels is that budget constraints made duplicating stories in the same world very difficult. The first sequel worked for me as a schlocky, weird “cousin” to the original, and it worked around heavy CGI by taking on a small scale Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe. The second, however, decided to showcase their lack of funding by providing a lot of effects resembling 32-bit era cut-scenes. So it made a tremendous amount of sense to turn the property over to the Japanese to work animated magic and make a worthy effort without the constraints of scope and scale that come with live action filmmaking. Unfortunately, the results aren’t what they could have been.
The good news is that, for the most part, Starship Troopers – Invasion looks great; this is up there in quality with the best cut-scenes capable in today’s games. This is on par with the Final Fantasy and Tekken features in the past few years. The action sequences are decent, including a little mech action. Plus, there’s animated T&A, if that’s your thing. But the animation is frequently stiff – at times downright robotic -which is a real shame. This comes from director Shinji Aramaki, who rebooted the Appleseed anime franchise in recent years. Those were a visual feast and action packed but a mixed bag in terms of story and character; so it comes as no surprise that Invasion suffers from the same. It meanders between soap opera drama and generic alien combat, with a second half highly reminiscent of Aliens, complete with a very similar “queen” bug. Carl, Johnny, and Carmen all return, and continue the inevitable path the characters were headed in after the events of the first film. Carl continues to make poor, militant decisions, Johnny is a hard-ass general, and Carmen…continues to do very little. They’re paper thin characters who aren’t made any richer, and it’s an even thinner story to back them up. And personally, that was the last thing I wanted out of this.
Paul Verhoeven is a master at subtext and the absurd, and none of that is anywhere near this. The original Troopers is a masterpiece that appears to be a rocking, ultra-violent popcorn flick when in actuality is AGAINST everything it’s exploiting. It’s a parody of Fascism, Marxism, the 1940’s, and is completely an anti-war exercise. It’s a bizarre movie, and I couldn’t count how many times I’ve watched it, not to mention how much more I get from it each time. But imagine stripping that movie down to the bare-bones — sci-fi action and soapy drama (without a hint of irony). That’s what Invasion boils down to: 85 minutes of simple, inoffensive, and bland storytelling. Oh, and it has a kung-fu fight(!) between a soldier and a bug. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, go for it – this is the closest we’ll ever get to a real sequel. I’ll stick with the original.
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