Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring (Starship Troopers) Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, (Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) Billy Brown, Richard Burgi, Kelly Carlson, Cy Carter, (Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) Amanda Donohoe, Marnette Patterson, Casper Van Dien, Jolene Blalock
Directed by (Starship Troopers) Paul Verhoeven, (Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation) Phil Tippett, (Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) Ed Neumeier
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Ladies and gentleman — Welcome to the mother of all bug-infested, gore-strewn, Blu-ray boxsets. With the release of the third film in the series, the Starship Troopers franchise comes screaming into the hi-def world with a vengeance thanks to Sony Home Entertainment’s extras packed Starship Troopers Trilogy collection. There’s so much going on here, it’s almost hard to decide where to start.
The films in this collection range from decent to good to classic. Each one brings something unique to the table. The original Starship Troopers brought with it gobs of gore, dark humor, biting satire, and epic action scenes. A few years later Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation scaled things back big time and gave us a movie that pretty much amounts to a zombie flick with giant bugs in it. The newest flim, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (full review here) brings the series back to its grander scale roots while providing an unexpected twist that will have fans debating for a long time.
Each has its rightful place in our home video libraries, and honestly, these full 1080p releases deliver a viewing experience that is nothing short of breathtaking. F/X heavy films like these exemplify what the hi-def experience is all about. The best part? They sound as good as they look. Turn up the volume, man, and don’t blame me if the cops show up at your house because of the screaming and gunfire. You’ve been warned! What we have here is a feast for a couple of the senses. Thankfully we can’t smell, taste, or touch those pesky bugs. The day when viewing interactivity goes that far, I’m just gonna hang it up and immerse myself in the virtual chaos.
When the original Starship Troopers hit DVD nearly ten years ago, it was a decent little package. A commentary here, a featurette there, etc. It was pretty cool. Now, however, Sony is delivering to us an edition that has every conceivable extra you can think of and some that you just can’t fathom.
Things kick off with two commentary tracks, one with Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier, the other with Verhoeven and stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, and Neil Patrick Harris. Do I really have to say which is the more worthwhile listen? Verhoeven and Neumeier, though characters in their own right, come off a bit on the stale side. Moving on. From there we have five different making-of featurettes that clock in anywhere from four to thirty minutes. Everything you’d expect is covered from cast and crew interviews, the crafting of the film’s starships, and even some in-depth insight as to the looks and habits of the bugs. This quintet of behind-the-scenes goodness leaves no stone unturned. Great stuff.
Next up is a series of nine F/X comparisons that clock in at half an hour combined. These are picture-in-picture looks at specific sequences of the movie shown with and without visual effects added. This may be interesting for the techies out there, but something tells me most folks won’t be watching for more than a few minutes. From there we get something called Scene Deconstruction with Paul Verhoeven in which the director walks us through two specific scenes via storyboards and animatics. Wrapping things up we’ll find more storyboard-to-film comparisons, two “Johnny and Carmen” screen tests, and five deleted scenes (including an alternate ending) that come in around the seven-minute mark combined.
I know what you’re thinking — “That’s cool and all, but what about Blu-ray specific features?” Rest easy, little soldier! Have we got a treat for you!
Included on the original Starship Troopers Blu-ray is FedNet Mode in which various special features can be watched via picture-in-picture mode while the film is running, and the official Recruitment Test that enables users to play a unique Starship Troopers trivia game! The best part? If your Blu-Ray player is hooked up to the Internet, you’ll be able to upload your scores to leader boards! How friggin’ cool is that? But wait … there’s more! Obviously there’s a ton of stuff to see and do here, but what if you just wanted to kick back and watch only what you wanted to without having to mess with menus and remotes? Enter the Blu Wizard option. Here you can select only what you want to see from anything on the disc, and it will play said features in succession. There are a couple of other things worthy of discussion, but we’ll get back to them later.
For now, let’s talk Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation supplemental material. Everything from the original DVD release has been ported over, but unfortunately nothing new has been added here. Sometimes it feels as if I’m the only one on the planet to give this little flick any respect. For the record you get an audio commentary by director Phil Tippett, producer Jon Davison, and writer Ed Neumeier and two behind-the-scenes featurettes. “Do you want to know more?” How I wish there was more to tell about this one.
Onward to the supplemental material found on Starship Troopers 3: Marauder …
Things kick off with two commentaries. The first with Neumeier, producer David Lancaster, and visual effects supervisor Robert Skotak is a bit of a snoozer in terms of a listen. All three participants speak in a sort of monotone that’s bound to not keep your interest. Instead, head right to the second one with Neumeier and stars Casper Van Dien and Jolene Blalock. While not exactly a tour-de-force of anecdotes and hilarity, it’s still tons more fun than the aforementioned one. Once you’re done listening, it’s time for the two featurettes.
First up there’s the eleven-minute Evolution: The Bugs of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder featurette, which is exactly what it says it is. The creatures in this flick are a great combination of puppetry and CGI. Seeing how it all came together is pretty damned interesting. Next up is the fourteen-minute Enlist: Mobile Infantry featurette. Here’s where you will find the bulk of the cast and crew interviews if that’s your bag. Honestly, this is pretty cookie-cutter stuff. “Do you want to know more?” Umm … No thanks. Fanboys only. Now for the true bright spot of the DVD — the extended music video for Sky Marshall Anoke’s “It’s a Good Day to Die”. See it. Sing along with it. Love it. Brilliant stuff!
Now that is quite a haul for one boxset. no? Yet I’ve saved the best things about this collection for last! All three discs in this set are BD Live enabled. What this means is that if your player is hooked up to the Internet (yes, that again), you can access the BD Live site, which lets you upload your trivia scores, download wallpapers, and generally get info on all things Sony Pictures. It’s really good stuff, but the best part about this?
Hold on to your asses, folks!
BD Live allows you in conjunction with the Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder Blu-rays to upload a photo of yourself to later appear pasted onto one of the live action characters running about the chaos within those movies. Imagine just sitting there chilling and then seeing either you or a friend run by on TV in full combat gear blasting bugs. Sure, in the end it looks a bit hokey, but come on, man! This is the next level of cool. Wow. Just wow.
The only bad thing to mention here is that all of the aforementioned video-based special features are presented in standard definition, and that’s the only thing keeping the supplemental portion of this review from getting a perfect five out of five.
Need I say any more? Do you need more convincing? Are you sold yet? The playing field of watching movies has just officially changed. The Starship Troopers Trilogy is simply outstanding. Do yourself a favor, if you’re a movie fan at all, take the plunge and invest in a Blu-ray player. Just think about what other possibilities lie ahead for us with our favorite movies. I’m speechless.
Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder
4 out of 5
Special Features Combined:
4 1/2 out of 5
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