On Blu-Ray: Starship Troopers: Invasion
Directed by Shinji Aramaki
Starring Luci Christian, David Matranga, and David Wald
This American/Japanese CGI feature puts the power suits and space combat back to the Starship Troopers franchise, but is it enough to make this film watchable?
The battle between man and bug wages on. A starship on a secret mission goes missing, and it’s up to General Johnny Rico to send weary troopers lead by a disgraced soldier to discover what’s going on and wipe out any bugs along the way.
This latest film in the Starship Troopers franchise is an action-packed CGI roller coaster, full of enough militaristic space combat and superbly-designed environments and gear to satisfy any sci-fi action fan. It stands well on its own, not needing previous exposure. However director (and fan of the original novel and films) Shinji Aramaki does a good job mixing elements of the original Robert Heinlein novel or the live-action films that fans of either will enjoy. Most notably are the inclusion of power suits from the novel and the bug designs and elements of the Johnny Rico/Carmen Ibanez/Carl Jenkins friendship from the film.
The film follows a large ensemble cast of characters as they fight to take back their ship. A lot of the characters are typical, shallow soldier clichés, but they’re fleshed out enough to get an emotional impact when some of them get impaled or ripped to shreds. A couple of exceptions aside concerning franchise mainstay characters, the film doesn’t pull many punches when it comes to killing off the cast, making the tension feel more real, feel that anybody could actually die at any moment.
The plot does take leniencies to get where it’s trying to go. The battle in the last third of the film particularly drags on to give the heroes a fighting chance. It drags to the point where the constant back and forth between bugs charging and troopers laying down the gun fire starts to get old as you wait for the climatic finish.
It’s a competently-told space military film with plenty of action and great design detail to back it up. The plot and the characters may be shallow enough to keep from a really fulfilling experience, but it’s still a fun ride.
The Video and Audio
The film comes in 1080p HD, 1.78:1 widescreen. It’s a pretty film to look at. The CGI is meticulously detailed, from the mechanical designs of the ships and power suits to the surface textures and lighting. The animation is sharp and smooth. There’s some occasional jerkiness from the human motions, most likely an awkward translation from the motion capture. It might be drab and dark for some, but it’s a dark space military film. What would you expect?
The film comes in 5.1 surround sound with audio tracks in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai languages. The audio comes through fairly clearly, but I’d like the dialog track to be cranked up a bit.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This single-disc release is fairly packed with bonuses. The 11-part documentary and directorial commentary are very insightful into the film’s production, showing the effort and detail that went into various parts of international production, as well as the crew’s dedication and fondness of the source material.
Other extras include a gag reel, deleted scenes, and conceptual art. The conceptual art gallery uses buttons I rarely use on my remote control to back out, and it doesn’t explain it well , taking a couple of tries and having to stop the disc to get back to the menu. Other than that and a lot of trailers to go through, this disc is a good production, and the bonuses are worthwhile.
Overall (Not an Average)
Starship Troopers: Invasion is a good addition to the franchise, emphasizing on the futuristic, militaristic power suit combat that is in high demand and short supply from the earlier live-action films, and the extra documentary and commentary content make the disc itself for franchise fans while being easily accessible to newcomers.
The Film 8/10
The Video and Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10