Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Best Direct-To-Video movie ever. Perhaps that praise isn’t so lofty considering what has been released to DTV, and also I should probably say that this is the Best DTV flick I have ever seen since I haven’t seen every DTV movie ever made, but I have seen more than my fair share and I am really surprised at how entertaining I found ‘Starship Troopers 3: Marauder’.

As we all well know by now the incredibly fascist Federation is in what is seems to be a 10,000 year war with these violent, intelligent and crafty Space Bugs with no apparent end in sight. It’s a good thing for us that Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) has returned, but this time he’s graduated to becoming a colonel for Federation and an honest to goodness hard-assed real live hero. Today is a special day at the outpost overseen by Col. Rico because they are getting a surprise visit from the leader of the Federation, Sky Marshall Anoke (Stephen Hogan), who also sings rousing pop songs when he’s not motivating the troops and devising highly classified anti-bug strategies. Accompanying the Sky Marshall on his trip to this bug infested outpost is his personal assistant and body guard General Dix Hauser (Boris Kodjoe), who is an old friend of Col Rico and is a Federation loyalist to a fault. Dix as also informed is old friend that he believes he’s in love, which introduces us to this ships pilot Captain Lola Beck (Jolene Blalock), who little to known to Dix is also an old friend to Col. Rico, which seems to cause Dix some slight concern.

None of this will matter very shortly as somehow the electric fences surrounding this compound will fail causing a severe infestation of bugs who do what bugs do which is systematically slaughter hordes of humans. The Sky Marshall and his transport led by

Captain Beck make it off the planet before the Base eventually collapses, but Johnny Rico gets most of the blame for this event due to some insubordination he showed his former good friend General Hauser. Additionally, before the Sky Marshall’s transport can make it back safely to earth, it crashes on a bug infested planet leaving Captain Beck and a crew of about five survivors, including a very strange acting Sky Marshall Anoke, to wait for a rescue transport.

Back on Earth the Fascist Federation is in a hanging mood, which includes anybody who speaks out against them and our insubordinate and now disgraced hero Col. Rico. Problem is that General Hauser has learned that no rescue transport is being sent by his commanding Admiral Enola Phid (Amanda Donohoe), leading Dix to take matters into his own hands to rescue his Sky Captain as well as his one true love. Who is he going to get to take on this unsanctioned suicide mission? Come on now, you know who. Can Johnny Rico and six grunts jet to a bug infested planet and come out victorious? Generally speaking I’d say no, but they got a little something extra for those bugs this time around which has me liking their chances, assuming there’s anybody left on that bug planet to rescue.

First thing we have to recognize is that ‘Marauder’ is nowhere close to as good as the Paul Verhoven satirical classic from 1997, ‘Starship Troopers’. And if the original film is like one of your three favorite films of all time, you’ve seen it a hundred times and hold SST viewing parties every second Thursday, then this film probably won’t stand much of a chance with you. Now if you watch a lot of DTV movies like some us do, you know going already that it’s not going to be as good as the first because it’s probably working with a tenth of the budget, Director Edward Nuemier – though he did a good job with this movie – isn’t Paul Verhoven and the special effects are quite suspect at times. What we do want to see, armed with that previous knowledge, is a movie that doesn’t suck, ideally is actually entertaining, and as a DTV sequel somehow avoids insulting its superior original and as far as I’m concerned, ‘Starship Troopers 3: Marauder’ comes out of the wash smelling swell.

Now I’ve never seen ‘Starship Troopers 2’, which I’m told is a good thing, but this movie had the spirit of the original plus it had Johnny Rico back in the saddle. Admittedly Casper Van Dien might not be Marlon Brando, and lord knows I’ve seen some amazingly bad Van Dien flicks (just yesterday on sci-fi as a matter of fact), but if nothing else that sucker is Johnny Rico and he pretty much owns this movie. Not to take anything away from Boris Kodjoe who takes what was looking like a thankless role as a sniveling Yes Man and manages to turn the character of General Hauser into a progressive character who sees, learns, observes and betters himself in the process and subsequently makes the movie better. We might toss in however that he’s probably too tall to be an actor since he seems to be like a foot taller than everybody in the movie. And of course we would pay good money to watch Jolene Blalock and her uncommonly full lips – considering – in just about anything. Sexy and tough, just as we’d expect from T’Pol.

The signature trademarks one would expect from an SST movie are present in the cheesy fascist commercials, the satirical humor and mindless bloody mayhem, but Neumier pens a script that has an interesting premise and also has some sharp dialog which is almost inspiring in its silliness. When Col. Rico orders a soldier to get his feet and find out ‘Who arm that belongs to!’, that’s just outstanding. Admittedly the SFX aren’t ILM Grade A, but they were good enough for what I was watching, and there were also plenty of them as there were probably more bug battles than even in the first film, and with that much bug killing action not once did boredom set in.

I obviously really liked this movie, and this is probably heightened by the fact I haven’t seen the original is an awfully long time so it’s not that fresh in my brain to compare it to this sequel. No, it’s not as good as the original, but if you know that going in and just enjoy this movie for what it is, I think you’ll enjoy it too.

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