I am a really big fan of Paul Verhoeven's satirical war farce, Starship Troopers. Just sit back, ignore all of the wooden acting, hilariously bad dialogue, and Denise Richard's, and pay close attention to what Verhoeven's selling you. He's gives us a war film straight out of the 1950's, filled with all of the requisite macho chatter, patriotic bombast, and melodrama, and then, sublimely, slips in some of the most grotesque violence, hopeless odds, and an obvious, frightening form of propaganda that assures recruits of "citizenship" as long as they're willing to put their lives on the line for a cause they know next-to-nothing about. The fact that it's all done in such a fantastic and tongue-firmly-in-cheek way makes it breezy entertainment, but it's actually a very bold anti-war statement.
Special FX guy-turned-director Phil Tippett's low-budget sequel isn't nearly as epic as Verhoeven's, but he follows course with a more personal vision of the Trooper mythos that, in my opinion, more closely mirrors the Robert Heinlein story upon which the series is based.
A squad of Troopers are trapped in a hostile bug zone, and must hold the fort at an abandoned outpost until a evac ship can rescue them. When they discover Dax (Bergi), an officer left behind for killing his commander, the psychic Lt. Dill (Monoson) wants him left locked up until they can be sure he's hung for his crimes. However, when the outpost is attacked by thousands of bugs, Pvt. Sahara (Porch), a low-level psychic whose pregnancy has amplified her abilities, realizes that Dax is their only hope for survival. She frees the Captain, and he clears the perimeter, repairs the outposts defense mechanisms, and the Troopers are now safe until the next available pick-up. That is until the squad's general (Lauter) returns to the outpost with a trio of strange Troopers who've been trapped on the planet for weeks. Sahara doesn't like the feeling she gets when the new arrivals take up residence at the outpost, and, soon, it is revealed that these Troopers are actually vehicles for an all new bug; a parasite that can take over a human body, and spread itself quickly. Now, with a ship en route to take them home, Dax and Sahara must stop these bug hitchhikers before they infect the fleet and wipe out the human race.
Starship Troopers 2 is actually a lot better than I expected it to be. The acting is solid, the dialogue appropriately corny, and I really liked the claustrophobic storyline (a budget decision that works in the film's favour). I was also impressed by the CGI in the film, which looks quite seamless thanks to the fact that the film was shot digitally. While digital video doesn't have the smooth, professional look of film, it's quite conducive to digital effects, and ST2's are actually quite good. It's not nearly as "fun" or epic as the original Troopers, but I like to think of it as a smaller chapter in an ongoing war, and, like Heinlein's novel, it focuses more on a single character rather than several interweaving storylines.
The DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star features a commentary track by Tippett, as well as a making-of featurette called Inside the Federation that features interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
Starship Troopers 2 may not be for everyone. For those of you who were only mildly entertained by the original film, you won't find much to love here. Fans of the original, however, should get a kick out of it if, like me, you check your expectations at the door.