7 Blog

Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

The ‘bugs’ will come out on Monday

In 1997, the Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven adapted Robert Heinlein's novel about elite Earth soldiers waging a war against an insect race, which the Earthers refer to simply as "bugs." Both the book and the movie were called "Starship Troopers."

Verhoeven was, in many respects, a master filmmaker. After his career in The Netherlands, in which he made such riveting studies as "Soldier of Orange," which starred future Hollywood actors Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé, he moved to Hollywood. And he was a hit.

Among Verhoeven's Hollywood films were the original "RoboCop" and "Total Recall," films that blended impressive — for the time — special effects with a rousing sense of sci-fi action. He made one of the biggest losers of all time with 1995's "Showgirls," but he rebounded two years later with the Heinlein adaptation.

His "Starship Troopers" was an overblown, effects-heavy satire on Heinlein's militaristic novel. But it had its appeal, as Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan explained: "A jaw-dropping experience, so rigorously one-dimensional and free from even the pretense of intelligence it's hard not to be astonished and even mesmerized by what is on the screen."

Now, 20 year later, Verhoeven is conspicuously absent from the animated film "Starship TroopersTraitor of Mars," a Fathom Events presentation that will screen at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at Regal's NorthTown Mall Cinemas. Instead, the film was co-directed by Japanese filmmakers Shinji Aramaki and Masaru Matsumoto from a script by Edward Neumeier.

The screening will include a special introduction by Neumeier and cast member Casper Van Dien, plus behind-the-scenes footage and filmmakers' interviews.

It'll be interesting to see a version of Heinlein that isn't Verhoeven's. If nothing else, it might be closer to what Heinlein actually wrote.