Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (ST3) is a film that could have been one of the best, if not the best, in the Starship Troopers series. Unfortunately, the comedy aspects of the film and multiple badly scripted segments hamper its cinematic appeal. ST3 script was better in many respects to Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation but the ideas were brought to fruition in a detrimental, corn-ball way.
Juan “Johnny” Rico (Casper Van Dien) is back, now a Colonel in the Mobil Infantry. Along with him are Lola Beck (Jolene Blalock), a Fleet Captain (who wears high-heel boots for the entire film, WTF), General Dix Hauser (Boris Kodjoe), Beck’s squeeze and Rico’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Link Manion (Cécile Breccia). In all three Starship Troopers films, I always found it strange that the “Troopers” never wear bullet-proof armor or camouflaged that matches the terrain they are stationed in. Additionally, what happened to those new bug weapons advertised at the end of Starship Troopers? They are shown and held by characters in ST3 but they seem just to be the same old plastic automatic rifles now with giant lights on top of them (which makes no sense). These and many others are plot points that are left hanging in the air, unanswered.
There is some serious over-acting by Van Dien in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, inspiring smiles and laughter (if you watch it with a group) rather than conveying seriousness of purposes, belief in his words or determination. Van Dien may have thought that hamming it up fit right in with the film (perhaps this is a metaphor for what this series has become) and for more than a few sections of ST3, his hypothesis is accurate. Blalock does an adequate job but I wish she had more action sequences in the film and kicked more ass.
One plot point that did work was the one that involved Sky Marshal Omar Anoke (Stephen Hogan), God and Admiral Enolo Phid (Amanda Donohoe). It was actually interesting to see the developments of this plot line and it was acted just right by Hogan (and later Donohoe and Kodjoe) from the outset of the film.
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is nowhere near are gory or as graphic as its predecessors, which is unfortunate since being a straight-to-video release, it had the advantage of bypassing the tyrannical MPAA and was given leave to put in as little or as much censorable material as it saw fit. Don’t be fooled though, there are plenty of “body shots,” nudity and messy kills to satiate the raunch and blood-hound in a typical viewer.
I was surprised and happy that a Starship Troopers’ film finally included the “Marauder class suit” for the Robert Heinlein novel the Starship Troopers film series is based on and that they were introduced in a cool fashion. You see their silhouette, their huge shadow but they are never fully shown until the last battle. The “Mobile” in Mobil Infantry was at long lasted introduced and introduced correctly. It was infuriating how writer-director Ed Neumeier changed how the Troopers interfaced with their individual Marauder suits though. Instead of explaining how a soldier could exist in a suit of this kind for extend periods of time and what that entails, the intricate controls of such a device, it is all skipped over for a MTV-style neural link sequence. Neumeier basically took a sophisticated concept and didn’t just water it down. He ruined the concept, the utilitarian aspects of the Marauder suits and made one of the most significant aspects of Heinlein’s book into a mere footnote. Anyone that has read Starship Troopers will feel thoroughly cheated by the Marauder’s first on-screen presentation. More thought and care was put into the ST3’s commercials than in this aspect of the plot.
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder has more effective intercut commercials and interactive segments than Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation but there are far more of them (at least that’s the way it seems) than in those films as well. There are so many of the intercut comedy relief segments that in some cases they deleteriously effect and break the continuity of the film’s more serious aspects. One commercial in particular stands out. It’s all about joining Fleet and is very ahem “visually” stimulating. “I’ll see you in the cockpit.”
Ed Neumeier’s Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is a film that had a lot of potential. Plenty of great ideas were introduced but only the comedy aspects, commercials and news segments were given any scriptural care and nurturing. The main character in the film, Johnny Rico, is more of a caricature than a character, which is a shame. It would have nice to see growth in the character, depth and an emotional range other than gun-ho rhetoric (“See you on the bounce trooper”) and one-liners. Like many of the sci-fi sequels that came before it, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is a film of vastly missed opportunities.