even before its 1997 film adaptation hit theaters, Starship Troopers Science fiction was hotly debated. Robert A. Heinlein’s best-selling 1959 novel is set in an imagined future world where only people who serve in the military are considered citizens and everyone else basically has no say in its government. Also, there are giant alien bugs.
Heinlein’s treatment of pro-fascist themes is somewhat confusing. (If the author were alive today, he would probably be described as a left libertarian, or perhaps a centrist conservative.) That said, there is plenty of evidence and argument to suggest that Heinlein intended Starship Troopers to represent a somewhat fascist government, instead of endorsing one.
The 1997 film version of Starship Troopers pretty much takes any pro-fascist or blatantly conservative portrayal and turns it into satire. “Do you want to know more?” the viewer is asked over and over again through a variety of fake futuristic newscasts designed to poke fun at the idea that the government in Starship Troopers it is something close to honesty. That the Terran Federation is corrupt as hell is a recurring theme that permeates all five Starship Troopers films. And yet, throughout the entire franchise, the Federation’s corruption is never as clear as it is in the fifth animated sequel, traitor from mars.
The film was the second animated. Starship Troopers movie, after 2012 Starship Troopers: Invasion. Directed by Shinji Aramaki and Masaru Matsumoto, traitor from mars it also featured the return of Dina Meyer as Dizzy in her first comeback since the original film. It’s also, unexpectedly, the only Starship Troopers film to address the philosophical paradox at the heart of Heinlein’s original story.
traitor from mars it’s uneven hard work, and really only great for a certain type of completist who’s obsessed with the movie universe of Starship Troopers. The equipment worn by Mobile Infantry at this point will remind you more of the Clone Troopers of the bad batch than the soldiers from the 1997 film. Having Casper Van Dien’s voice reunited with Dina Meyer’s gives the film some nostalgic points, but not close enough to call this a hit.
Instead, the real strength of the film is the way it returns to the core of the whole problem with Starship Troopers: Are we supposed to support this super corrupt government or not? In traitor from mars, Rico loads up with new recruits from the titular red planet and finds them lacking in skills. But more than that, Rico is annoyed by a streak of basic apathy in the human Martians, especially towards the Terran Federation. Essentially, the people of Mars watch out as much about Federation patriotism as other humans, and for good reason.
This notion is vaguely reminiscent of another novel by Robert A. Heinlein, The moon is a tough lover, all about a possible secession of the lunar colonists. The Martians in traitor from mars they’re not actively trying to leave the Terran Federation, but it’s very clear that the people in power on Earth think they’re terrible. The thrust of the film centers around Rico figuring out how to overcome his prejudice towards his rogue squad, even though they are Martians.
All this finally allows the kinematics Starship Troopers universe comes to a philosophical conclusion that most of the franchise struggled to fully explore. The people of Mars are victims of the Federation’s cruelty. Rico’s prejudice against his Martian squadron is also proof that even the best of people can fall into horrible class patterns. The basic structure of Starship Troopers The movies created a critique of the class structure.
Other sci-fi franchises have done much better (the expansion comes to mind), but what’s so funny about all the Starship Troopers movies is that they never committed to getting into what made those class distinctions bad. There was always another bug to explode or another spaceship to crash. However, with Starship Troopers: Traitor from Mars, the shock of the Terran Federation’s cruelty finally made sense. Even the 1997 movie couldn’t pull that off.
Starship Troopers: Traitor from Mars it is available to rent on Amazon and elsewhere.