Starship Troopers

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Starship Troopers Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Gory, scary, violent sci-fi is too intense for kids.
  • R
  • 1997
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Surface themes about valor, bravery, military duty, fighting to victory against relentless enemy. But...a subversive undercurrent hints at a harsh society in which a powerful military establishment has taken over, with soldiers and Nazi-like elite officials granted superior rights and privileges to go with the responsibilities. The "good guys" are not necessarily good guys.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroic, fearless types abound, and males and females are equally take-charge and tough. Disabled veterans (missing limbs, especially) are commanding figures. There is a diverse ethnic mix of characters.


Extreme splattery gore in the monster battles, with humans sliced to pieces by insect claws and mandibles, crushed by machinery, melted by creature acid, and, by the finale, getting their brains sucked out. "Arachnids" are dissected and shot to pieces too. Human-on-human violence includes bones broken in brutal cadet-training lessons and fistfights. A character is shot in the head. The hero is literally whipped bloody in a disciplinary action. Real insects (giant cockroaches) are smashed, in a satire of human revenge-lust.


Toplessness, as Johnny and a fellow soldier have sex before a fight. Mobile Infantry, male and female, shower together with no qualms about it.


The s-word, "bastard."


An onscreen plug for the telecommunications giant ATT.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Troops drink beer in a victory celebration.

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byverzatran February 19, 2021

Amazing sci fi

It is the best sci fi film that, I ever see. Monsters, bugs, brave soldiers and also starships. Many different kind of ships. From huge interstellar. to small b... Continue reading
Parent of a 8-year-old Written bySpyraker June 26, 2019

An all time classic space opera.

Not one for kids or people with an aversion to gore and blood....and boobs and butts.
Innocent and naive teen lives are shattered when war with an Alien race th... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byStarship troopers October 23, 2018

Better than star wars

This one of the most violent sci fi movies I saw it when I was 12 and I was not disturb by the violence of nudity of the Language I think if you like Star Wars... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAlexthegreat1012 December 16, 2020

One of the best films of all time

Sex and nudity 8/10 violence 10/

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 ...

  • Families can talk about sci-fi movies. What is the appeal? Is all the violence and gore here necessary?

  • Can the war in the film be related to any true-life military conflicts in the headlines? Does the film make younger viewers feel any differently about

  • the armed forces?

Movie details

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