I really don’t care that Ed Neumeier is behind this. I applaud his history with science fiction cinema and Robocop, but as a sequel and standalone film “Starship Troopers 3” is a terrible film. The satire I can often stomach since it was so much apart of the original film, but the fact that the satire is much too obvious to even call it respectable satire is just much too clumsy at times. “Marauder” is that film in the series many fans were anxious to watch mainly because it’s much more loyal to the novel, but that doesn’t entirely promise entertainment.
Rico is back for this film and has basically developed as a character. And not for the better. Rico was a very gung-ho, god bless the anti-bug movement soldier the last we saw of him. Now just a conflicted soldier leading squads in to battle and thinking about the consequences of this ongoing movement. This isn’t so much a development of the character as it is a plot device to create the conflict for the story. His second thoughts about battle and freedom of speech allows him to enter in to a world of imprisonment when he clashes with a former friend Dix (Boris Kodjoe about as hammy as ever) and now superior who is much more gung-ho about war than he is.
After a comical scuffle between farmers and soldiers at a bar, Rico is arrested for preventing Dix from opening fire, and as massive conspiracy is set to keep Rico a hot property or the federation. Or something like that. In either case, the satire is all set for the politically aware. Murders are fabricated, war is dramatized, freedom of speech is rendered invalid, and so on to the point where the screen practically flashes “Get it? The Iraq War!” over every scene. I was one of the few people who liked part two of the “Starship Troopers” series, only because it tried for something different and explored a new realm of the bug war. “Marauder” is faithful to the source material, but not entirely the ideal sequel I wanted.
And mid-way it shifts in to auto-drive spanning two central plots, one involving Rico, now a secret agent for the federation after a mock execution, and the other involving marooned federation soldiers fighting bugs in the desert all of whom are led by their religious beliefs. And if you’re not certain how religious, they preach about their faith in God, sing religious songs, and the like all while fighting for their lives. God help us. The glory of the original film was not based solely around Casper Van Dien. He was only a small part of a bigger and better cast. He had his role. He played the grizzled hero. The presence of individuals like Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, Dina Meyer, and Neil Patrick Harris kept the story and the action afloat, all the while maintaining its wonky darkly comic atmosphere. Here, director/writer Neumeier can never be sure if he’s delivering a satire or a stern science fiction actioner, all the while the cast is severely lacking in charm and appeal.
Kodjoe can barely keep up with Van Dien (which isn’t saying much, sadly), and the rest of the cast are interchangeable and forgettable faces. “Marauder” has some appeal due to its special effects, and mech suits, but that said, it’s not much of a film worth seeking out for fans of the franchise when all is said and done. Granted, I’m a fan of the concept, and the satire on the war effort, but had a hard time sitting through this entire third leg of the series. Granted the special effects are sharp on occasion, but “Marauder” is barely a worthwhile viewing experience with varying hokey to bland performances, an awfully stilted and over the top script, and a confused tone that can never decide if it’s satire or dramatic action. Want to know more? Yes, me neither.