The One-Line Summary: In the near future, after humans begin colonizing other planets, a race of “bugs” called the Arachnids on the planet Klendathu stage an attack on Earth and humanity creating man’s first space-war, which threatens all the world’s population unless they can stop them on their home planet.
The Two-Line Blurb: Based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein, the film has a purposeful propaganda-esque style, portraying future civilization as a kind of quasi-democratic fascist state where military duty ensures citizenship with certain rights and opportunities prohibited to others. We meet Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien,) and his girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards) as they enlist in the federation service, with her becoming a pilot and he a quickly-advancing member of the mobile infantry who will be part of the first major assault force on Klendathu.
The Three-Line Set-up: Rico is eventually assigned to the “Roughnecks” a squad of elite ground fighters led by his former high school teacher, Lt. Rasczak (Michael Ironside), a fierce commander with a loyal lot who follow him into the worst battles, often with horrific consequences. Rasczak sees a lot of potential in the young Rico and he is promoted quickly, demonstrating fearless commitment to the cause. Meanwhile, the “Roughnecks” respond to a distress signal on Planet “P” where they find an abandoned (or worse) military outpost in the desert regions and begin to investigate what turns out to be something much more deadly.
The Four-Line Moment: The “bugs” have set a trap, revealing a deeper cognitive ability than expected, and once all the troops (the fighting army is populated by men and women) are in the outpost, the menacing, swarming creatures attack. The soldiers are hopelessly outnumbered but take to their stations and attempt to hold the fort, the outcome of which has tremendous effect on Rico, both strategically and emotionally. Campy but grounded, Starship Troopers has a gleeful, though very gory charm to it, but never gets much deeper than the conflict, and this scene exemplifies that philosophy. Fantastic special effects and massive alien versus humans battles like this, make for a fun, bloody adventure.
The Five-Word Review: Cool aliens but heartless story.