PicturePresented in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and encoded with MPEG-4 AVC this is head and shoulders by far the best release of Starship Troopers. Troublesome irks of the past such as blocking or enhancement are absolutely nowhere to be seen here. The transfer is absolutely stunning, free from grain and print degradation, pin sharp with incredible detail in both the foreground and distant shots. Take a look at the scene 56 minutes into the movie where our troopers are about to descend upon Klendathu, the bugs' home planet. The rendering of the hanger bay is pristine. Pause the shot and look for the incredible detail on the landing pods. A scene earlier to this, at 50 minutes, shows the aftermath of the destruction of Buenos Aires. Pick out the detail on all the decaying bodies as rescuers comb the annihilated city. Wonderful!
The palette is extremely broad, vibrant and contained within their borders superbly; no bleed here. Skins tones are spot on, no one looking like they've spent too long under a sun bed. Insects here on Earth, no matter your personal opinion, tend to be quite colourful and beautiful creatures. The ones we meet in Starship Troopers are no different. Check out the multi coloured hordes as they sweep over the rolling landscapes, again pause the movie and you'll be able to examine each in minute detail. At 80 minutes a trooper is carried off by a flying bug, the purples and greens on its translucent wings easily standing out.
Dark scenes in the night show adequate shadow detail and space scenes whilst velvet black erupt into full glorious swathes of colour once plasma fired from the planet below rises and cripples most of the on coming fleet. On DVD9, debris floating out of stricken ships was just that, debris. On Blu-Ray you realise these are tiny little people, arms and legs clearly visible, not just a blob.
At the opposite end of the spectrum whites are never crushed. Klendathu is a bright planet and daytime scenes are still well defined, again plastered with the beautiful colour palette used for the bugs.
It sounds as though Starship Troopers cannot get any better than this and perhaps it can't. That's not to say though that there aren't some very minor distractions. Just after the Klendathu departure mentioned above whilst a senior trooper closes one of the hatch doors there is a great amount of noise showing. This appears on the regular DVD9 edition of the print as well. Some other scenes briefly show minor noise, specifically on warship control panels. You really have to be looking out for them though.
SoundOffering a 5.1 PCM 4.6 mbps soundtrack this has to be the one of choice for all who can take advantage. Like the visuals audio is pin sharp, nothing seems to be lost in this transfer. Vocals are naturally centred and you'll never be looking for the remote to rewind wondering what anyone has said. Left, right and surrounds are used, as they should be, steering the audio as required. Crowd scenes at school or train terminals encompass the viewer and draws them into the picture feeling as though you're not simply watching but actively partaking.
It's during the battle scenes though that your system really comes alive. With thousands of screeching insects descending upon the cast the viewer expects to hear the sounds all around them. You will not be disappointed, as the insects swarm towards and beyond the point of view you hear them pass via the surrounds in their thunderous chaotic glory. This can also be said of the external space shots, audio emanating from the surrounds as you would expect for the path of a fly-by. Multiple, oh so multiple, gun blasts and ricochets during the many ground battles again are routed to the specific speakers as required. Even though the surrounds are well used I did feel that they could have had a little more punch to them, used perhaps a little more frequently.
LFE is monstrous. Explosions will rock your system and thump your chest. One scene where a giant bug emerges from underground to waddle towards the trooper grunts really shows off your sub. If it doesn't kick you in the chest as the bug stamps its way forward then your system is not set up correctly.
Along with the PCM track there is an equivalent DD 5.1 which whilst not quite fully living up to the dynamic range or sheer intensity of the PCM is not to be frowned upon. Viewers without the ability for PCM will certainly not feel short changed here. As well the two English tracks there are French and Spanish DTS-HD and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks.
- Teaser Trailer.
As the name suggests an initial trailer for Starship Troopers. Perhaps the full trailer should have been shown instead or additionally?
The usual short making of feature that would have played on TV channels prior to the film being released. More of an enhanced trailer for the movie, it has short interviews with Verhoeven and some cast members on the plots and the characters. Also discussed are the creature effects, set design and the teamwork required to pull off a movie such as this.
- Deleted Scenes.
5 Deleted scenes which rightfully landed on the cutting room floor. Nothing really of worth here should have been included back into the main feature.
- Scene Developments with Commentary.
Verhoeven discussing three major scenes from the movie and how with the use of animatronics for story boarding and CGI the final shots came about. Interesting enough from a technical perspective but I wish it was a little longer or more detailed.
- Screen Tests.
A couple of Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards screen tests. If this shows you anything it shows that the casting director could have made better choices.
Quick access to 3 scenes which are supposed to show off the quality of this Blu-Ray release. Eyesight, bookmarks and chapter use provide the mere mortal with the same.
The extras contained on this release are no different to that of the standard DVD9. There is one glaring omission though, the lack of the directors commentary. On the DVD release this proved a worthwhile listen, reinforcing some of the themes which Verhoeven was trying to get across, to leave it out here staggers belief. Most commentaries are a chore to get through but for this commentary I would have traded all of the included extras shown above. What we are left with are rather bland, watch once, forgetful additions which really could have been so much better.
VerdictStarship Troopers, no matter the terrible acting style, is still a great watch almost ten years on. Obviously Verhoeven has a bee in his bonnet about getting certain themes across to the viewer. In Robocop the reduction of personal freedoms by overblown corporations, here the reduction of personal freedoms by the state. At times it's not as in your face or as satirically funny as Robocop but it still gets the point across. Underlying we have the menace of a society mobilising only for expansion and war. To serve the military in such a way has no other purpose and Verhoeven is not so subtlety trying to tell us to watch out for this. One day it's bugs, who knows who or what it might be next. Even without the supplied directors commentary backing all of this up it can be easily seen from moments in the film where phrases like "To ensure that Human civilisation, not insect dominates this galaxy now and forever" or the fact that most of the military wear costumes WWII Nazis tailors would have been proud of! Interspersed with propaganda adverts Verhoeven has suitably shown us a society on the march towards fascism, control and destruction.
Transfer wise you're not going to get much better than this. Certainly it's by no means perfect but those minor glitches are nothing if not fleeting. Sound wise, perhaps a little more exposure to the rears but apart from that I cannot fault it.
I was a little let down by the extras. Yes there's one or two but nothing there of substance, no real meat telling you something you didn't already know about this film or the movie industry as a whole. It's a travesty that the directors commentary wasn't included.
Watchers of Starship Troopers tend to fall into the love it or hate it camps. Most in the latter can't get by the Pinocchio acting technique. They are right of course, some of the acting at times doesn't get any worse than this. Does this enhance what is ultimately a B-Movie though, or just me sticking up for it? For my own part the themes, story, visual spectacle and utter mayhem in this film appeals. A lover of 50s Sci-Fi B-Movies and this has to be the best one of its genre from the 90's. It's always worth another watch and definitely worth an upgrade to Blu-Ray purely for those glorious visuals.
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- Teaser Trailer.