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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Starship Troopers (Superbit Collection)
Starship Troopers (Superbit Collection)
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 5, 2003
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Blair | posted July 12, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Love it or leave it, Starship Troopers is a wild ride. You've got spaceships, interplanetary battles, futuristic football, more gore than a Freddy movie, and an audio track that obliterates your eardrums. It's campy, overflowing with bad acting, and is as hard a science fiction film as you're likely to find. And make no mistake, this movie is NOT for the squeamish. But if you know what you're getting into Starship Troopers will please to no end.

Adapted from Robert A. Heinlein's popular sci-fi novel of the same name, Starship Troopers is a full-blown shoot-em up sci-fi thriller. Vastly different from the book, the movie strays away from all of the political uproar that is so prevalent in the novel, which is for the best because it would have only slowed things down. Instead the movie concentrates on one man, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) and his days spent in the military after graduating high school. There's a little bit of romance, (but not too much to slow the pacing down) and a little bit of exposition dialogue, and a WHOLE lot o' action. You just gotta love brainless action flicks!

Our story kicks off at the end of Johnny's senior year. He, along with his schoolmates, Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), football teammate Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), and his prudent albeit sometimes spitfire girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards), all fight with the decision to join the military after graduation. Now it may seem strange that so many promising young lads would want to join the military so eagerly after high school, but there's a reason, and that's because you cannot become a citizen of the planet until you've served two years worth of military service. Meaning no children, no seeking political office, no voting, and no impressing hot little girlfriends until you've done your duty as a uniformed grunt. Great world huh? Naturally they all enlist, and all go their separate ways, that is except Dizzy, who somehow finagles her way into Johnny's mobile infantry unit. During boot camp, war officially breaks out - between Earth and an outer space intelligent insect race - after the bugs send a meteor toward Earth, destroying the entire population of Buenos Aries. How ironic that all our heroes were all from that very place. Strange? Once war has been declared, the action heats up. The gory battle scenes keep coming one after the other as grunts are ripped in half, beheaded, and melted with flaming bug juice. And don't forget the few that get their brains sucked out through the top of their skull. Yeah it's violent, but then again, you knew that already. The carnage continues until the bug's secret weapon - a sophisticated brain bug - is captured alive. Oh yeah, are you feeling the suspense yet?

So, since this is a Superbit title, you know the drill. No special features, no extra discs, no glossy trading cards, nada. All you get is one beautiful little disc filled to its silver brim with video/audio ecstasy. Otherwise known as an increased bit rate digital transfer. Say it with me now, "Superbits are my friend!" So, is this Superbit title any good? Hell yes it is. Is it worth ditching your old copy of Starship Troopers SE? Ah, no. Mainly because that version is outstanding in its own rite, what with its bountiful amount of extra features and better-than-average video and audio quality. But if you're a diehard video and audiophile, this disc is a must have. I repeat again, a must have!

The picture is ever so close to perfect, and the audio - when the action picks up - is fantastic. If all you're after is the movie, and don't care about any special features, I'd go for this version over the SE version any day of the week. But if special features are important to you, than the SE is a wonderful option because you get some great extras on that set. It makes me wish that these Superbit titles would get released as a two disc set, one with the movie and audio only, and the other for any special features that might be laying around. Heck, I'd pay an extra $10 to $15 for that. I'd love to have my cake and eat it too, wouldn't you? But until that little dream of mine comes to a reality, we'll have to resort to choosing one or the other, or simply buying both. Not an ideal situation, but hey, that's all we got.

So if you consider yourself a good citizen, you owe it to yourself to go buy this DVD. It's fun, gory, brainless, and full of great looking special effects. And hey, there's even a coed shower scene, so why aren't you at the store yet?


The DVD

Video:
Starship Troopers is presented in roughly 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is one of the best video transfers I've ever seen. I had to look real hard to find any faults with it. And although I did find a couple of minor imperfections, I still have to give it a perfect 5 for video because it's much better than a 4.5. The only real thing I could find was a minute trace of edge enhancement that is sometimes visible. But it was still hard to see on my 120" widescreen setup, so those of you with smaller screens should have no problem with it at all. Also, if I get real nitpicky (hey, it's my job) I can find a little bit of graininess present as well. But besides that it's nearly flawless. It is big improvement over the SE edition, so that was good to see. The SE edition suffered from more substantial graininess, and more pixelation than this Superbit title. So all in all it's not perfect, but it's darn close, and gets a 5 because a 4.5 rating isn't good enough.

Audio:
As with all Superbit titles, we get both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio tracks. Both are fantastic, offering active dynamic sound that pulverizes your hearing receptors during the action sequences. The bass is good and not overused, which is welcomed because I'm getting tired of movies going overboard with the low frequencies just because they can. Most of the time there's not reason to get that crazy with the bass. The rear surrounds get used often, and are very discrete in their usage. You'll find yourself looking over your shoulder more than once looking for flybys by starships, bullets, and highflying piles of glowing bug butt juice. (I know its gross, but that's what it is!) This DVD is without a doubt the perfect choice to show off your new audio system to your friends, so crank it up!

Extras:
Superbit DVD's utilize all disc space for the sole purpose of video and audio excellence at the cost of losing space normally reserved for extra features. This ensures the highest possible quality for picture and sound currently available on the DVD format.

Final Thoughts:
Starship Troopers - Superbit is hands down one of the all-time top five DVD's to demo your home theater with. The video quality is near flawless, the audio is destructive in nature, and the action never quits. Sure its hokey, riddled with awful acting, and follows a ho-hum plot, but it knows what it is, and it accomplishes its mission with tenacious force. If you want to knock the neighbors socks off, buy this DVD and have 'em over for a late night snack. They just might never want to leave. Oh wait; maybe that's not such a good idea after all? DVD Talk Collectors Series

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