Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-May-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Featurette-From Green Screen To Silver Screen
Featurette-Inside The Federation
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Spiderman 2, Bad Boys 2, Hellboy, Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Trailer-Welcome To The Jungle, Terminator 3:Rise Of The Machines
Trailer-Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 87:51 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Phil Tippett
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Richard Burgi
Colleen Porch
Bill Brown
Ed Quinn
Drew Powell
Ed Lauter
Kelly Carlson
Cy Carter
Brenda Strong
Lawrence Monoson
Jason-Shane Scott
Sandrine Holt
J.P. Manoux
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music John W. Morgan
William T. Stromberg


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Arabic
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Slovenian
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   When Director Paul Verhoeven released Starship Troopers in 1997, the film immediately polarised audiences into two distinct groups. Those that despised it and those like myself who loved it. The film was based on the classic science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein's epic tale is considered one of the greatest genre novels of the 20th century so a film adaptation was immediately going to divide fans of the book. Verhoeven and screenwriter Ed Neumeier chose to give their version of the story a satirical edge, complete with dark humour and over-the-top violence. This approach did not sit well with some fans and resulted in a box office take that was mediocre at best. Now seven years later, fans of the film have been given a sequel, a direct-to-video sequel, but a welcomed one all the same. There is obviously a big market for home video sequels to moderately successful films because lately we have been given an endless supply. There are more Hellraiser, Tremors, Mimic, Wishmaster and Prophecy sequels than you can poke a stick at. The problem arises when you realise that the majority of these cash-ins are basically celluloid rubbish with no artistic merit whatsoever. To say that I was dubious about a cheap sequel to Verhoeven's epic is an understatement. Happily, though, I can report that Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation is a semi-decent follow-up to my beloved Arachnid opus.

    The film begins five years after the events on Tango Urilla. The Federation is losing ground to the bugs, forcing infantry numbers to dwindle. The sequel follows the exploits of a cut-off platoon, who hold up in an abandoned outpost besieged by an army of Arachnid warriors. While waiting for rescue, the handful of troops discover a new insect threat that could destroy the federation. Now, with mankind's survival on the line, these Roughnecks will have to overcome this new threat or all will be lost.

    The filmmakers, armed with a small budget of about six million dollars - Verhoeven's had a budget of one hundred million dollars - realised that they would be unable to deliver a sprawling war epic in the same way the original did. Instead, they have basically made a haunted house film. Director Phil Tippett liberally borrows elements from other great sci-fi films, but mostly to good effect. If you combined John Carpenter's The Thing, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Alien and Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo this is the film you would get. Tippett obviously believes that if you are going to lift elements from other films, why not use the best. What also elevates the film from `direct to video hell' is the talents of screenwriter Ed Neumeier (Robocop, Starship Troopers). Neumeier attempts to infuse the admittedly mediocre story with the same satirical flavour found in the original, but ultimately falls well short. There are minor moments throughout the film where Neumeier successfully brings a satirical edge to the proceedings, but never comes close to approaching the over the top genious that the renowned Dutch `nut job' propelled his version. This, sadly, is the film's Achilles heal. I love the films of Paul Verhoeven (Showgirls notwithstanding), and with the exception of Ridley Scott, John Carpenter and James Cameron he is simply one of the great genre filmmakers. Hero Of The Federation suffers from his absence which is simply unavoidable. First time Director Phil Tippett deserves credit however, as the film feels like it belongs in the same universe as the original, but lacks the narrative drive and visceral wallop you only get when the Dutch master lets loose. Tippett has had a long and illustrious career in the field of special effects and his achievements in this area are unsurpassed. His career began with Star Wars and never looked back. As a director he does a serviceable job with extremely limited resources, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more from him in this area based on his efforts here.

    Another aspect that made the original Troopers film so unrelenting were the astonishing visual effects, handled by none other than Phil Tippett. His company once again provides the Arachnid foe and considering the small budget they deliver the goods. I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of effects work on display, especially for a non-theatrical release. Once again we are witness to the brutality of war with the bugs and thankfully the gore quotient is quite high.

    Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation is simply not in the same class as its forerunner, However, it is a solid if uninspired B-grade sci-fi shocker with better than average credentials. What surprises is the mere fact that it never shames itself by association with Verhoeven's classic, which as far as I'm concerned is a real coup for all those involved. If all home video sequels were up to this standard the term might not be so derided.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Hero Of The Federation is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen viewing.

    The film has a very sharp image and there are no aliasing or edge enhancement problems. However, there are several issues concerning the film's shadow detail. For the most part the film has a decent image with well rendered blacks and background image. There are points during the film that unfortunately suffer from a strikingly bad grain problem. The most notable of these occurs at the 5:29 minute mark. It only last for about 3 seconds, but nearly all the film's fine detail is lost during this section. The film was shot digitally and I'm wondering if this process is directly responsible for the problem. The filmmakers make no mention of such deficiencies during the commentary so it is hard to say. Thankfully, the problem is very minor and does not distract on the whole. There are no low level noise issues.

    Colours are intentionally muted to further the depressive atmosphere of the story. Skin tones are natural and the film's more violent moments make proper use of colours associated with bodily dismemberment.

   There are no problems with dirt or film artefacting.

    For a direct-to-video film, Columbia have provided a very decent transfer.

    The RSDL layer change is at the 55:49 minute mark and is well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The film has been given three audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1, and an audio commentary in 2.0 channel surround. The 5.1 tracks are in English, Czech and Hungarian.

    Dialogue is always clear, with clarity never lost during the more hardware intensive aspects of the film. There are no audio sync problems.

    The musical score is by John Morgan and William Stromberg. The score is very reminiscent of Basil Poledouris' composition for the first film and fits the mood of the story nicely.

    Surround channel usage is nicely handled with well placed directional sound effects making strong use of the rear channels. This is most notable during the Arachnid attack sequences.

    The audio track's reverberation levels were slightly overpitched with too much bass. However, I would rather have too much than too little so this slight grievance is negligible.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    Static film image from the sequel.

Main Menu Audio

    The film's score plays over an image from the sequel.

Dolby Digital Trailer

Audio Commentary - Director Phil Tippet, Writer Ed Neumeier, and Producer Jon Davison.

    This is a very informative and amusing commentary track. The three participants are recorded together and spare no detail in the making of this low budget sequel. It is obvious from the start that all three are great friends and that this film was a labour of love. It is a testament to the skill of these individuals that they were able to deliver on a meagre budget of about 6 million dollars - the original cost 100 million - a finished product that is a decent follow-up to Paul Verheoven's sci-fi extravaganza.

Featurette - Inside The Federation.

    This is a 30 minute documentary that covers every aspect of the film. Every participant is interviewed and there is a wealth of behind the scenes information and footage. This documentary is a real treat for fans of the film.

Featurette - From Green Screen To Silver Screen.

    Running for about 10 minutes, this mini-documentary showcases 5 effects sequences from the film and discusses in detail how they were achieved. A well done piece.

Gallery-Photo

    19 stills from the production.

Theatrical Trailer

    Non-anamorphic trailer from the film. This is quite a poor trailer and does not do the film justice.

Trailers

    Anamorphic trailers for: Hellboy, Spiderman 2, Bad Boys 2, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Terminator 3, and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is no R1 version of this film currently available.

    The R4 and R2 versions are identical.

Summary

    Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation is an interesting, but very limited sequel to Paul Verhoeven's intergalactic Arachnid epic. The disc is loaded with well put together extras and the transfer is more than acceptable. Fans of the first film should be pleased with this follow-up effort.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F
Web Wombat - James A

Comments (Add)
Tippett and Davison - Anonymous
Retail Price $39.95 - Submariner
Losing ground? - Alan
Re: Losing ground? - Anonymous
Re Re Losing Ground - Alan
Do some history research, Alan. - Leroy's Mama
Not much history research there,Leroys mum. - Alan
That film was almost as great as The Hitcher II or Police Academy VI. - Anonymous
Seen at K-Mart for $13.99 - Neil