Starship Troopers - Rated - HOT! HOT! HOT!

Starship Troopers is a very intelligent film. It is wonderful visually, and it is action-packed. It should appeal to a very broad audience - but with some notable exceptions. If you don't like violent movies or movies which show bloodshed and the effects of war, don't see it. And if your idea of a good movie is a romance, don't bother with this one. But otherwise, make the effort. Don't assume you'll be seeing mindless bloodshed and brain-dead action. You won't This is a film to make you think.

It is funny in sardonic sort of way. It looks like a high-tech comic-strip: which is to say it looks fabulous. The lead actors are right onto the intentions of the director (Paul Verhoeven, who directed The Fourth Man, Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct, among other films). And those intentions are subversive.

And the bugs! They are terrific. What an appalling prospect - being overrun by intelligent bugs! How it brings out some primitive fear in us - an idea which is exploited brilliantly by Verhoeven and the scriptwriters. I particularly loved the "brainy" bug. I imagine the designers saying to themselves, "Now how can we make this bug particularly repellent? I know, we'll make it a giant brain, with 14 eyes, an appendage that sucks your brain out, and an anus for a mouth!"

The screenplay is a gem: clever and wicked, and chilling. It was written by Ed Neumeier (who co-wrote Robocop, and has written something else very good recently, but I can't think of what it is!). The original story comes from Robert A Heinlein, who wrote it more or less "straight" - without any of the irony and sardonic wit that Neumeier and Verhoeven bring to it.

For the movie buff, there is also the fun of picking the references to other movies (such as Zulu ) and in particular World War 2 propaganda films, such as the series Why We Fight, which Frank Capra produced and many of whose films he also directed, as did Anatole Litvak. This series made the unpleasantness of war into exciting entertainment, much as Starship Troopers does. There's that Verhoeven intelligence again.

At the session I attended, there was an added piquancy. There was a group of servicemen a few rows behind. It was fascinating listening to their reaction, which veered from gung-ho cheering and wisecracking to confused silence. Did they know that everything they stood for was being sent up? I'm not sure, but they definitely enjoyed themselves!