A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this combat-themed sci-fi flick uses hideously violent human-alien warfare, with people gorily impaled, scissored apart, slashed, whipped, crushed, and shot (there are "friendly fire" and mercy-killing casualties). One topless sex scene and a topless coed shower scene. Swearing is amusingly PG-level mild, given the ferocious mayhem. The heroine has a vomiting fit and beer is guzzled. The surface glorification of military life and culture here is satire; Earth's "good guy" Federation resembles a fascist state with Nazi-inspired regalia and public executions.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Robert Heinlein's densely philosophical 1959 novel Starship Troopers, based on the author's own thoughts serving in WWII, blitzed the big screen in this epic science-fiction action. A future Earth's space-colonizing triggers fights with "arachnids," vicious, giant alien bugs whose warfare techniques include bio-generated energy blasts and asteroids hurled by manipulation of gravity. School football hero Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) defies his wealthy family to follow girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards) into the Federal Service, a bug-fighting space military. But ambitious star-pilot Carmen breaks up with Johnny in a humiliating video email, and a fellow cadet gets killed in a training accident on Johnny's watch. Johnny's decision to quit the "Mobile Infantry" changes when arachnids directly attack Earth, flattening his city (and family) with an asteroid. Johnny, Carmen, and others join a dangerous Mobile Infantry assault on the bugs' home planet.
Is it any good?
Older teens (whose parents aren't irked by the major gore and minor sex) are likely to enjoy this thrill-ride. By the time STARSHIP TROOPERS premiered, so many popcorn space-alien action-blasts had blazed across screens it seemed this was just another, with a literary basis and expectedly sensational f/x that raised the bar on crafts, creatures, and explosions. But the pace never slackens, and the actors grit their teeth in the fine fashion of stirring old John Wayne wartime propaganda flicks (the Duke never had so much CGI to work with). It's certainly not for everyone, but it has become something of a cult classic, and older teens may be interested.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: November 7, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: August 11, 2008
- Cast: Casper Van Dien, Clancy Brown, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Michael Ironside, Neil Patrick Harris
- Director: Paul Verhoeven
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: February 19, 2021
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