Starship Troopers

The Movie Rips the Heart Out of the Story

Robert Heinlein’s 1959 Hugo Award-winning novel Starship Troopers is the inspiration for this very loose movie adaptation.  Heinlein was a 1928 graduate of the Naval Academy and the author of over thirty science fiction novels.  Some say that Starship Troopers founded the military science fiction subgenre; at the very least it spurred the growth.   

Literature is a springboard for ideas, insights and intellectual growth, but science fiction rarely aspires or reaches such heights.  When I first read the novel as a teenager it provided insights into how a society might be organized and in the years since it became one of the springboards for my own writing. I’m not saying the novel is great literature, but it is superior science fiction.  It presents a plausible future society with an appropriate intellectual and philosophical framework.  It is the philosophical aspect that is at the heart of the novel.  This movie rips that heart out of the story. 

Written during the height of the Cold War, the novel was the means by which Heinlein argued for a strong military.  The story also serves as a vehicle to present his libertarian political ideas.  While the story contains more introspection, exposition, and character discussion than is common in the genre it has also been criticized as exceedingly pro-military and lacking in character depth and development.  The story is pro-military, but I don’t believe it lacks character development.  However, one must remember that, unlike most science fiction, Heinlein was presenting ideas with the novel, not merely a story about killing alien bugs.    

If the movie stood alone I might be able to recommend it based on some fine special effects, truly unworldly aliens, and great action scenes, but since I’ve read and enjoyed the novel I could not enjoy this travesty of a movie.

If you’re a science fiction fan I recommend you read the novel. Don't bother seeing this movie.