Let’s get this out of the way right now: you either want to watch another Starship Troopers film, or you don’t. That is likely going to be the biggest determining factor on whether you check out Starship Troopers: Invasion, regardless of whether it is live-action (it isn’t) or CGI (it is). If you think another Starship Troopers film would be fun, go ahead and keep reading. If you think the idea is horrible and not for you, no need to read anymore.
Because Starship Troopers: Invasion is exactly what I thought it was going to be. It’s a Shinji Aramaki-flavored, CGI-driven space adventure film that may be the coolest space marine video game that I don’t get to play because I have to watch it instead. And the video game parallel is not just because it’s CGI like most games and seems like an extended cut scene, it’s also because, for the majority of the film, our soldiers are decked out in their full Power Suits, making them almost indistinguishable from each other (like Halo, for example). But I’m ahead of myself.
Starship Troopers: Invasion gives us a tale that follows in the footsteps on the live-action series. As the film opens, Roughneck soldier squad K-12 is holding off a bug invasion at space base Fort Casey, awaiting the assistance and arrival of another squad of soldiers, A-1. Meanwhile, Dr. Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris reprising his role from the original film, in voice only) has absconded on a secret mission with Carmen Ibanez’s (Denise Richards’s character from the original film) spaceship. As the Bugs overwhelm Fort Casey, Carmine escapes the base with the K-12 and A-1 squads.
After some rest and relaxation with the soldiers, where we see far more female CGI-nudity than I remotely expected while the almost indistinguishable soldiers are given just enough back story to make the rest of the film a bit more interesting, Carmine’s ship is found and she and the soldiers are sent by Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien, who also executive produced this film, played Rico in the original but didn’t do the voice here) to figure out what happened to Jenkins and crew. As you can imagine, even though the ship is quiet (too quiet), nothing is as it seems.
Again, this was exactly what I imagined it would be. Lots of action, lots of interesting perspectives and angles on CGI-animated set pieces. The film only stumbles, if you want to call it a stumble, when it attempts to give a bit more heart to the various characters during the downtime between action; it just doesn’t work, because the CGI-faces never look convincing enough in their attempts to show any subtle emotion and those back story sequences just become comical when, again… you know where this is heading. It’s a Starship Troopers flick. To amend the tagline somewhat, “Everybody fights, nobody quits, most everyone dies.”
The plus side of that stumble, though, is that you know the filmmakers know what they’re making too, so it becomes even more entertaining in its (supposedly) unintentional comedy. In other words, who cares, it’s just fun and if you were expecting anything but, you didn’t see the first flick in the series.
In summation, you already know if you’re interested in this flick, so all I’m really doing here is letting you know whether or not it could fit into the Starship Troopers universe, and whether it works. It does, on both counts. I don’t know if the more serious Starship Troopers scholars would balk at the story or anything like that; I see it as a space adventure cartoon series (even the live-action of the original was so over-the-top as to be a cartoon) and could easily see more episodic CGI-tales coming down the line to flesh the universe out even more. If I had to put a vote in, though, I’d like to see something less CGI and more Æon Flux-style (the original animated version, not the Charlize Theron version) for a future installment. You know, just to mix the media up some more.