Starship Troopers (1997)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 124:21 (Case: 130)
RSDL / Flipper FLIPPER (55:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Verhoeven
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Casper Van Dien
Dina Meyer
Denise Richards
Jake Busey
Neil Patrick Harris
Patrick Muldoon
Michael Ironside
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $36.95 Music Basil Poledouris
ZoŽ Poledouris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
French
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††††What can I say about Starship Troopers that I haven't said a million times before? With a plethora clever references to World War II propaganda and numerous classic war films (including a reference to Verhoeven's own Soldaat Van Oranje in the most unlikely of places), it's little wonder that the illiterates elected to view the film as a celebration of facism.

††††The film revolves around a group of soon-to-graduate high schoolers living in Beunos Aires. The primary hero among them is Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), whose powerful physique and apparent lack of any intellectual or psychic prowess leaves him with only the option to join the Mobile Infantry. As he settles into the lifestyle of a grunt, his girlfriend, Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards) starts training to be a pilot, and his best friend, Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris) enters the fun field of military intelligence.

††††If you want a more in-depth write-up of what the film is about, then have a look here. However, if you happen to find an old copy of the Region 4 Starship Troopers DVD sitting on a shelf, and you're wondering if it is worth buying a version that doesn't have the Special Edition tag, read on...

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Starship Troopers was one of the first films I bought on DVD in Region 4, and if I had known then what I know now about DVD manufacturing, I simply would not have bothered. In a nutshell, this is a great film presented on an appallingly bad disc that should be piled up in massive amounts and set ablaze as an open gesture of defiance against Region Coding.

††† The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

††† The transfer is so sharp that the finest details in dunes and steel floors can be made out, which makes it quite a surprise that there is no noticeable aliasing anywhere in the film. The shadow detail is impeccable, with everything that cinematographer Jost Vacano and director Paul Verhoeven intended you to see in the dark shots being completely visible. Most of the film is very brightly lit, so the shadow detail required is not that great to begin with (not that we are left wanting more anyway). No low-level noise found its way into the film, either. The colour saturation was somewhat cartoon-like, but this appears to have been a deliberate choice by the filmmakers.

††† MPEG artefacts were absent from the transfer, which is something of a surprise given that the transfer rate is often only around eight megabits a second, which also makes the formatting of the disc somewhat bewildering. Film-to-video artefacts were not noticed at any point, although there are plenty of opportunities for aliasing to take place in various shots, and I may have missed one or two very minor occurrences. Film artefacts were completely absent from the transfer, reflecting the youth of the film. Overall, this is one of the cleanest presentations of a film that you will ever see on DVD, and it is a real pity to have to tell you about the manner in which this was achieved.

††† This disc is one of those dreaded flippers, with the flip point being placed just after John, Ace, and Dizzy get tattooed, 55:41, at which point we get that awful disc-flip graphic and the disc returns to the main menu. I cannot stress enough how disruptive this flip is to the overall flow of the film, it is almost as bad as Roadshow's lamentable early practise of putting layer changes with artificial fades right in the middle of an action scene.

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

Audio

††† Accompanying the razor-sharp video transfer is a wonderful audio transfer, making it all the more tragic that Touchstone Home Video decided to break this film in half at such a crucial moment.

††† The audio transfer is presented in three languages, all of them in Dolby Digital 5.1: the default is the original English dialogue, with dubs provided in French and Italian. I listened to the English dialogue, and sampled some of Denise Richards' lines in Italian for good measure. The dialogue is equally well-mixed in all three soundtracks, and it is very clear and easy to understand in the English soundtrack, which is especially important for a film like this one. There were no discernable audio sync problems at any time.

††† The score music in this film comes from two sources, or three if you count the rendition of a David Bowie song early in the film. Most of the score is composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris, who has worked with Verhoeven before on Robocop. His contribution to this film is exceptional, with the music marrying itself well to the onscreen action, making an extremely strong connection with the characters, in spite of being more thematically connected with the events. During the prom scene in the first quarter of the film, a couple of songs are performed by ZoŽ Poledouris, Basil's exceptionally talented daughter. In order, these two songs are Into It, one of ZoŽ's own compositions, and a slightly reworked version of David Bowie's I Have Not Been To Oxford Town. ZoŽ's own contribution to this score is as immeasurable as it is short, and sets a great mood for what is certainly the lightest moment in the film.

††† The surround channels are used very aggressively, but inelegantly, for ambient sound effects, music, and the occasional special effect. Overall, the sound field is more overpowering than enveloping, with the surround channels occasionally getting some great directional sound effects for moments when the flying insectoids make their attacks. The directionality of these sound effects, however, is lost in the general lack of subtlety found in the soundtrack. This is not to say that the surround presence is necessarily bad, as it is probably an accurate reflection of the filmmakers' general intentions, but it could have been somewhat better. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the explosive sounds in the film, with crash tackles, gunshots, nuclear explosions, and even the music getting plenty of support.

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

Extras

††† A shining example of why Region Coding should be outlawed.

Menu

††† This static menu is little more than a language and scene selection system, and is thus more or less completely redundant.

R4 vs R1

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

††† There have been two releases of this DVD in Region 1. Neither of them have flip-points inserted anywhere in the film. The new Region 1 Special Edition is a two-disc set with a new audio commentary and several new featurettes, making it the version of choice.

Summary

††† Starship Troopers is a brilliant piece of political commentary and satire presented on an abysmal DVD that should definitely be snubbed in favour of its Region 1 counterpart.

††† The video transfer is excellent, but I'd rather have a mildly problematic video transfer than be forced to get up and turn the disc over at one of the most crucial moments of the film.

††† The audio quality is excellent except for a somewhat inelegant surround presence.

††† The extras are a shining example of why Region Coding should be outlawed.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, January 06, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, DTX 5.6T Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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