The Future is Here: Google Glass for the Battlefield

q-warrior see through displayWearing a Google Glass headset in public may get you called a “hipster”, “poser”, and (my personal favorite) “glasshole”. But not surprisingly, armies around the world are looking to turn portable displays into a reality. Combined with powered armor, and computer-assisted aiming, display glasses are part of just about every advanced nation’s Future Soldier program.

Q-Warrior is one such example, the latest version of helmet-mounted display technology from BAE Systems’ Q-Sight line. The 3D heads-up display provides full-color, high resolution images and overlays data and a video stream over the soldier’s view of the real world. In short, it is designed to provide soldiers in the field with rapid, real-time “situational awareness”.

q-warrior1The Q-Warrior also includes enhanced night vision, waypoints and routing information, the ability to identify hostile and non-hostile forces, track personnel and assets, and coordinate small unit actions. As Paul Wright, the soldier systems business development lead at BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems, said in a recent statement:

Q-Warrior increases the user’s situational awareness by providing the potential to display ‘eyes-out’ information to the user, including textual information, warnings and threats. The biggest demand, in the short term at least, will be in roles where the early adoption of situational awareness technology offers a defined advantage.

The display is being considered for use as part of the Army Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) system, a powered exoskeleton with liquid armor capable of stopping bullets and the ability to apply wound-sealing foam that is currently under development.

q-warrior2As Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) science adviser, said in a statement:

[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in.

The device is likely to be used by non-traditional military units with reconnaissance roles, such as Forward Air Controllers/Joint Tactical Aircraft Controllers (JTACS) or with Special Forces during counter terrorist tasks. The next level of adoption could be light role troops such as airborne forces or marines, where technical systems and aggression help to overcome their lighter equipment.

iron_man_HUDMore and more, the life in the military is beginning to imitate art – in this case, Iron Man or Starship Troopers (the novel, not the movie). In addition to powered exoskeletons and heads-up-displays, concepts that are currently in development include battlefield robots, autonomous aircraft and ships, and even direct-energy weapons.

And of course, BAE Systems was sure to make a promotional video, showcasing the concept and technology behind it. And be sure to go by the company’s website for additional footage, photos and descriptions of the Q-Warrior system. Check it out below:


Sources: wired.com, baesystems.com

The Future of Warfare: Iron Man is Coming!

iron_man_suitsAccording to a report filed last Tuesday by the US Navy’s top SEAL, the ambitious plan to build a high-tech armored suit for elite commandos has entered a new phase. After years of development, the military is preparing to analyze three new design concepts, and will begin receiving prototypes of these “Iron Man” suits by the summer.

Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said the military will receive the prototypes by June. This project, which was started last year, aims to revolutionize the capabilities and protection of Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Special Forces, and other elite commandos who perform some of the U.S.’s most dangerous and violent missions.

TALOSOfficially known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – named after the Greek automaton made by Zeus to protect Europa – the designs have already been nicknamed the “Iron Man” suit. Obviously, the name is a nod to all the futuristic technology that powers the suit, including a powered exoskeleton, liquid armor, built-in computers and night vision, and the ability to monitor vital signs and apply wound-sealing foam.

However, there’s a catch with the prototypes. According to McRaven, who addressed reporters at a special operations conference in Washington. the prototypes will be unpowered. As it stands, no known means exists to provide a powered armor suit with the kind of electricity it would need without resorting to a gas-powered generator, or connecting the suit to the local grid.

Warrior_Web_Concepts_WideAs he explained, the challenge of finding a way to power a suit that is portable and ergonomic remains:

Obviously if you’re going to put a man in a suit – or a woman in a suit – and be able to walk with that exoskeleton… you’ve got to have power. You can’t have power hooked up to some giant generator.

Essentially, this means that the days of a genuine “Iron Man” suit are still years away. Best-case scenario, the admiral wants the suit to be used in combat situations by August 2018. Still, he also emphasized the “astounding results” that has been observed in the project so far. The prototypes in assembly now will be evaluated, with the results incorporated into the suits the U.S. will eventually deploy to the battlefield.

ghost_recon_future_soldier-1920x1080It’s unclear what the total price of the project may be, but McRaven said he would like to offer a $10 million prize to the winner in a competition. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s likely the cost of developing the suit would be many times that, most likely ranging into the billion-dollar bracket. But of course, McRaven thinks it will be worth every penny:

That suit, if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement to survivability and capability for U.S. special operators… If we do TALOS right, it will be a huge comparative advantage over our enemies and give the warriors the protection they need in a very demanding environment.

The admiral said the project was inspired by a U.S. special operator who was grieving the loss of a comrade in combat.  Despite more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. still doesn’t have a way to adequately protect commandos who “take a door,” a reference to the controversial raids that kill and capture insurgents all over the globe.

iron_man_destructionAlready, SOCOM has predicted the suit will include futuristic liquid body armor that hardens when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. This is the most futuristic aspect of the suit, giving the soldier flexibility, mobility, and providing superior protection against ballistic objects. It also will include wearable computers, communications antennae, and a variety of sensors that link it to its wearer’s brain.

By merging digital technology, wireless access to army communications, GPS satellites and databases, and upgraded targeting and protection into one package, a single commando unit will likely have the combat effectiveness of an entire platoon. And from all indications, it’s only a few years away. I imagine the US Special Forces will see a serious boost in recruitment once the suits are available.

And of course, there’s a concept video provided by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) showing what TALOS has to offer:


Sources: complex.foreignpolicy.com

The Future is Here: “Ironman” Spec-Ops Suit

 

ironman3Army researchers have been working for years to incorporate powered armor, exoskeletons, and high-tech weaponry into the arsenal of next-generation soldiers. And this latest development from DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research wing of the US Army – is being hailed as the closest thing there is to a real-life “Iron Man” suit to date.

Its known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) and is designed to deliver “superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection”. Named in honor of the Greek automaton made of bronze that Zeus assigned to protect his lover Europa, this suit incorporates a powered exoskeleton, liquid armor, built-in computers and night vision, and the ability to monitor vital signs and apply wound-sealing foam.

DARPA-Warrior-Web-660x495Put together, the capabilities would make the already elite Special Operation Forces nearly invincible in the field, according to the Army. As Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) science adviser, said in a statement:

[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in.

For the sake of the suit’s design and high-tech features, DARPA reached out to engineers from MIT, who are currently working to produce the liquid body armor that is perhaps the most advanced feature of the suit. Composed of magnetorheological fluids, this armor will “transform from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied.”

TALOS_Future_Army_Soldier_WideThe suit is expected to make a first-generation appearance some time next year. Because of the high number of highly integrated technical challenges with advanced specifications, the Army is also drawing on a broad range of collaborators from multiple fields to complete the design in time. And as Jim Geurts, USSOCOM acquisition executive, in a statement:

USSOCOM is interested in receiving white papers from a wide variety of sources, not just traditional military industry but also from academia, entrepreneurs, and laboratories capable of providing the design, construction, and testing of TALOS related technologies. The intent is to accelerate the delivery of innovative TALOS capabilities to the SOF operator.

US_Army_powered_armorFor some time now, the concept of advanced powered suits of armor has been a feature of science fiction. Examples abound from literary references, such as E.E. Smith’s Lensman series and Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, to RPGs like BattleTech and Warhammer 40k, and to the gaming world with the HALO and Fallout series’. And much like lightsabers, there has scarcely been a geek alive who didn’t want one!

Now it seems that something very close might be realizable within a year’s time. I don’t know about you, but I feel both inspired and more than a little jealous. Damn SOCOM, always getting the coolest gear first! And of course, there’s a video:


Sources:
wired.com, dailytech.com
,

Giant Robots (vol. 3)

As Smith said that ambiguous sequel known as Matrix: Reloaded, “More!” And what better way to start this latest list off than with an example from that franchise…

APU:

Concept by davpea1 at deviantArt

Starting off today’s list is the Armored Personnel Unit (or APU) from the Matrix trilogy. Making it’s first appearance in Matrix: Reloaded, it’s real c0ntribution came in Revolutions when every single unit in existence was used in the defense of Zion.

Hydraulically operated, the APU was run by a single operator who sat in a central cage and operated everything through a series of hand controls and leg straps, much like the Cargo Loader from Aliens.

It’s weaponry consisted of two 30mm cannons which are mounted on the arms. Loading these weapons required the assistance of an ammo carrier who would feed the ammo boxes into the back with the assistance of the APU’s crane. Due to its flexible reach, a single APU could defend itself from multiple Sentries without much difficulty.

During the battle for Zion, some 350 APU’s took part in the defense. Unfortunately, they faced overwhelming odds and all were lost. Though some were still functional even after their pilots died, their systems were rendered inoperative after the Hammer arrived on scene and detonated its EMP device.

Arm Slave:
https://i0.wp.com/ih2.redbubble.net/image.10793093.2886/flat,550x550,075,f.u1.jpgThis next example comes once again from the manga and anime world of Full Metal Panic. Officially, the name “Arm Slave” is short for Armored Mobile Master-Slave System, referring to their coordinated unidirectional control system. Basically, this means that a single pilot would be controlling multiple suits, either from inside a command mecha or from a remote location.

Built by the US in the fictional FMP universe, these powered suits went on to become the mainstay in every western army, giving new meaning to the term “mechanized infantry”. However, these mecha were featured chiefly as the weapons of Amalgam and Mithril, organizations to whom the main characters were members.

In the course of the story, every state produced its own variations of the Arm Slave and the design went through several generations. Beginning as smaller variants powered by internal combustion engines, the later models would feature cold fusion reactors and electroactive polymer muscles, making them faster, more mobile, and capable of much better performance. In terms of weapons, the Arm Slave is limited only to what it can carry, making many different configurations possible.

These include, but are not limited to, two 12.7 mm chain guns, two XM18 wire guns, a single 40, 57, or 70 mm smooth-bore cannon, a single missile launcher, or hand to hand weapons such as the M1108 anti-tank dagger or the GRAW-2 Monomolecular cutter. And given its raw power and strength, it can also attack with its bare hands and just bash things to death. Good to have options!

AT-ST:
The other famous walker from the original Star Wars universe! Designated as the All Terrain Scout Transport, the AT-ST was a bipedal walker that was created by the Republic for use in the Clone Wars, but saw more extensive service with the Empire during the Galactic Civil War.

Appearing in both Empire and Jedi, the scout walker was basically the reconnaissance version of the AT-AT, often serving in a support capacity during major assaults. However, in situations where the terrain was more dense and difficulty to navigate, as was the case with Endor, the AT-ST was considered more favorable. Hence why the Imperial garrison chose to deploy several in the field while keeping their AT-AT closer to the shield generator station itself.

In terms of armaments, the AT-ST carried a twin-blaster cannon on the front of its module, along with a light twin blaster and a concussion grenade launcher mounted one either side. While relatively fast and able to negotiate Endor’s heavily wooded terrain, its bipedal configuration and relatively thin armor made it vulnerable to the Ewok’s log traps.

Two were destroyed in this way, while another was commandeered by Chewi and two Ewoks and used to destroy a fourth. Without any walker remaining to provide cover, the garrison was quickly routed and all their speeders destroyed. Not a very good record of service, being beaten by furry wooded creatures and their flying logs!

Dreadnought:

Concept by garr0t at deviantArt

Back to the good ol’ universe of Warhammer 40k with another installment! And this time around, boy did we bring out the heavy hitters! Here we have the Dreadnought, a heavy cybernetic mecha that is similar in concept to the Dragoon and Immortal from Starcraft.

Basically, whenever a Space Marine is mortally wounded in combat, they can have their remains transferred into one of these behemoths so they can keep on fighting. Entombed within the unit ceramite skin, the pilot controls the Dreadnought through a series of neural links from a command “sarcophagus”.

As a heavy mech, the Dreadnought’s primary function is that of infantry support. Its weaponry can take many different configurations, but often involves laser or gatling cannons mounted in the arms, missile launchers embedded in the shoulders, and additional launchers or cannons mounted over the head. Smaller weapons are generally mounted under the upper body for point-defense against lighter infantry as well.

Enhanced Powered Armor:
Enhanced_Powered_ArmorThis next example comes from the F.E.A.R. gaming universe. Known as EPA’s, these bad boys are the latest generation of powered armor to come from this universe and are by far the biggest and baddest of the bunch!

Much like its predecessor, the Elite Powered Armor, the Enhanced was designed for combat against both infantry and vehicles. For these purposes, it is armed with two GAU-19/A heavy rotary machine guns, one on each arm. In addition, it has three sets of rocket launchers, mounted in the shoulders and above the right arm, that launch homing missiles.

For strictly defense and maintenance purposes, the EPA also has an automatic repair system which activates when the unit is heavily damaged and a new shielding system. Although it does not have the ability to engage in melee attacks with its hands, it is still capable of generating powerful stomp attacks with its feet that send powerful shockwaves in all directions. Because of their power and obvious expense, these units are rarely encountered in the game, and only ever at the end of a level.

Gun X Sword:
Gun-X-SwordBack to the world of anime, this time for a robot that puts the swash in swashbuckling! Officially known as “Dann of Thursday”, this mecha comes from the anime of the same name and was the personal powered armor of Van, the show’s main protagonist.

Built to resemble its user, who is also tall and lanky, this mecha is unique amongst its peers in that it has no ranged weapons. All its capabilities revolve around its central blade, which while in compact form, causes the mech to resemble a giant sword. When in humanoid form, this blade can be wielded as a single sword, or broken down for use as two.

In additi0n, Dann has also has an electromagnetic shield which protects it from ranged attacks. This allows van to close ranks with enemy mechs and eviscerate them with his blades. But by far, the Dann’s greatest feature is its ability to heal its pilot once they enter the cockpit. Pretty handy when you need to recover from some wounds, or just shrug off a hangover!

Iron Giant:
iron_giantThere’s something to be said about a gentle giant, even if he is 40 feet tall and made out of solid metal. Taken from the 1999 Disney movie of the same name, the Iron Giant is distinguished amongst its peers here in that it is not only an alien machine, but a sentient one. As such, it is as much at home on a list of AI’s as it is giant robots.

Apparently, this robot was meant for first contact purposes, possessing the ability to learn and boasting some rather impressive defensive protocols. When activated, these weapons are capable of evaporating tanks, aircraft and entire platoons of infantry. However, as was demonstrated, these only become active when the robot is threatened, or he becomes angry.

And few things make an Iron Giant more angry than threatening his best friend in the world, which in this case was the little boy Hogarth Hughes. In addition to seeing past his massive metal frame, Hogarth taught him how to understand English and acted as his guide to the confusing world of humans.

Above all, the Iron Giant demonstrated a tremendous capacity for emotion. Aside from anger, he also demonstrated love, attachment and empathy. This last aspect was demonstrated when he chose to sacrifice himself rather than bring destruction down on the town of Rockwell (obvious allusion to Roswell). Having learnt that a nuclear missile was heading for him, he chose to fly away to intercept it rather than let it destroy everything and everyone around him. So sad when gentle giants are misunderstood!

Nova (Black Hawk):

"Blackhawk 1st test run" by pinksniperiii
“Blackhawk 1st test run” by pinksniperiii

Back to Battltech, once again for an Omnimech that is the workhorse of the Clans that employ it. Known as the Nova by its inventors, it also bears the name of Black Hawk by the Inner Sphere who captured one and began producing their own variants of it.

Designed initially for infantry support, the Nova was unique in that it was built with hardpoints which allowed infantry soldiers to easily mount and dismount. As such, the Nova could function as a mech and a sort of battle taxi, ferrying infantry into battle alongside it.

In terms of armaments, the Nova was again unique in that it could be armed exclusively with energy weapons, 12 of them to be exact. However, in other configurations, it could be outfitted with machine guns, autocannons, gauss rifles, or even a sword. These would be mounted almost entirely on its arms, but also in two large clusters around the head.

Unfortunately, production of this model soon ceased after a unit was captured by Inner Sphere forces and duplicates fashioned. Believing that their mech design had been compromised, the Clans began to focus on other models to serve as their omnimechs of choice.

Sentinels:
This example is kind of obvious, surprised I didn’t think of it sooner. While I was never much of a fan of the comics, I did see a few episodes of the animated show, and these things certainly made an appearance! As a potential shout out, they were also featured in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand, appearing in the Danger Room as a simulation.

In the comic books and animated series, however, these massive robots made several appearances and were quite important to the overall story. Designed for hunting mutants, the Sentinels went through several different models. However, the most common were three stories tall, capable of flight, employed energy weapons, and had advanced sensors which could detect mutants.

In addition, their programming ran from the semi-intelligent, involving advanced tactical thinking and decision-making skills, to the fully self-aware. But of course, these were few in number, usually designed for the sole purpose of commanding other Sentinels (such as the Master Mold). Many Sentinels were designed to be capable of learning from their engagements, adjusting strategies to deal with mutants of varying ability.

Often serving as the antagonists in the X-Men universe, these robots were nothing if not a prime example of terrifying gigantism! Can’t believe I didn’t think of them sooner!

VF-0 Pheonix:
And last, but certainly not least, we return to the Macross universe for another example of an over-sized mecha! In this case, we have what’s known as a variable fighter, which is basically a mecha that is capable of transforming from an aircraft to a humanoid form.

As part of Earth’s plan to counter a Zentraedi invasion, the Pheonix was a merger of fighter designs with Overtechnology. Composed of titanium/carbon composite, space metal alloy and SWAG energy converting armor, this mecha is capable of operating in space, upper atmospheres, lower atmospheres and even underwater. It’s clipped wing air design also ensures a great deal of maneuverability when in flight mode.

In terms of armaments, the Pheonix prefers energy weapons to autocannons due to a lack of internal storage space. As a result, it comes equipped with either one VF-0A/D or two VF-0S fixed Mauler laser cannons, and multiple micro-missile launchers mounted in the shoulders and chest. In flight mode, it is also capable of carrying a GPU-9 35 mm gatling gun pod and up to twelve air to air or air to ground missiles or guided munitions.

The Pheonix also comes with the added feature of being able to carry reactive armor for added protection. In fighter mode, it has two seats, one for the pilot and one for a radar engineer, similar to the F-14 Tomcat. And like most variable fighters, it can also deploy in GERWALK mode (or Ground Effective Reinforcement of Winged Armament with Locomotive Knee-joint ), a sort of half-fighter, half humanoid configuration which allows for ground assaults and quick take off.

The Future is Here: Powered Exoskeletons!

Hello and welcome to a new segment on this site. With all the futuristic developments emerging on a daily basis, and given my own obsession with the coming singularity, I thought a segment on new inventions might be worthwhile.

And thanks go to Dave DeMar for giving me the idea for today’s post! As usual, his cheeky and fun take on the day’s events were a source of inspiration. And they also got me thinking… The clip below shows the news story on Rewalk, the latest development for paraplegics which actually helps them walk. Fans of Glee will no doubt remember it being featured in a recent episode, where the character of Artie got one for Christmas and said how an inventor in Israel was responsible for the development.

File:Hybrid Assistive Limb.jpgSeeing that again got me thinking. I’ve been fascinated with the topic of powered exoskeletons for some time, ever since I began researching it for an upcoming book of mine (the planned sequel to Data Miners: Data Pirates!). As part of the larger phenomena known as Future Soldier, it is the latest in a series of advanced technologies which are being proposed for 21st century warfare.

But of course, the civilian applications are just as interesting and a lot more endearing. Sure, giving soldiers super strength and endurance is cool, but providing the handi-capable with the means to walk and achieve the kinds of full-range of motion the rest of us take for granted is kinda more important, wouldn’t ya say?

However, the coolness doesn’t stop there. Powered exoskeletons are also likely to come in handy in an age of deep-space travel and colonization, should we ever get there. After all, acceleration inside of a ship can produce some pretty fierce stress on the human body, and there are a lot of terrestrial environments where the gravity is more than we’re used to dealing with. Suits of powered armor could be just what we need to get around and do our thing until our bodies adapt to spacing and alien environments.

Way cool! With inventions like these, things like the Iron Man suit may not be as farfetched as all that. Once more, we see the future coming faster than previously thought. But then again, science fiction becomes science fact all the time. Also, check out the clip below and prepare to be inspired!

The Dark Knight Returns

While I’m riding this comic book turned movie high, I must mention one of the best comic books around and definitely one of the best installments in the Batman franchise ever. And while this comic has not yet been made into a movie per se, I do believe large tracts of it have been used to create The Dark Knight Rises. I am, of course, referring to The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

To be fair, I’m not exactly a comic expert, but even I’m not that big a fan of Miller’s work. He has obvious woman issues and is not the best illustrator, and large parts of this comic were lifted from The Watchmen. But hell, it worked! If you’re going to steal, steal big. And the concepts of outlawing superheroes, forcing others to work for the government, a dictator president and an escalated Cold War all worked quite well within a Batman context. And trust me when I say, Dark Knight Rises will use this stuff! Read the review and you’ll see what I mean…

(Background—>):
Initially, the comic was the result of a collaboration between Miller and DC’s editor-director Dick Giordano (formerly the Batman group director). However, disagreements over deadlines forced Giordano to pull out, leaving Miller to complete the project alone. DC then published the full and final product in one volume with four parts which, despite its price, sold quite well.

(Plot Synopsis—>):
The story opens on a near-future Gotham city where things have gone to hell due to the absence of the Batman. The reason for his retirement is simple: superheroes have been outlawed, except for Superman who now works for the government. We learn that this was part of the deal, where he became a military asset in order to spare his former comrades the indignity of going to prison. As with Watchmen, this has led to an escalation of the Cold War and the creation of a dictator president (in this case, its Reagan or a clear look-alike).

In any case, Bruce Wayne (aka. Batman) is struggling with being retired. By turning his back on his former profession, he feels like he’s betrayed the promise he made to his parents decades back. In addition, the situation is getting so bad that he feels he has nothing to lose by returning. This worsening situation is portrayed with an allegorical heat wave that has gripped the city and is only getting worse.

Enter into this Harvey Dent, the former DA turned Two-Face who has had corrective surgery (courtesy of Bruce Wayne) and who’s doctors now claim is recovered. However, these doctors soon have egg on their face when a masked terrorist seizes Gotham’s two main business towers, clearly meant to resemble the WTO’s twin towers (it should be noted that this comic was written several years before Sept.11th 2001), and threatens to detonate a bomb.

Batman is successful in stopping the terrorist, who is clearly Dent, and finds that the surgery has not had the desired effect. Rather than correcting his split personality, it has only deepened it, making his look one way but feel another. Dent is placed back into psychiatric care, and the public is divided over Batman’s return. The media, in the form of talking heads and news reports, play a large role in this comic. And for the most part, they have bad things to say about Batman, claiming that in spite of his actions, he ultimately attracts a more deranged breed of psychotics and criminals.

His return also puts Superman in an awkward position since he will now be forced to come to Gotham and arrest him. However, as he is still occupied with a US-Soviet standoff taking place on the fictitious island of Corto Maltese, Batman has some time. Which he spends moving onto his next targets, the Mutants gang. Seems these thugs have taken over the streets, are thieving and murdering, and are led by a massive, psychotic freak. Oh yeah, and they operate out of the city’s dump. When Batman confronts them, he gets into it with the boss, but things go awry. After all, the boss is a mutant, is hugely strong and powerful, nearly impervious to pain, and a lot younger than Batman.

After several rounds, Batman begins to lose ground against the titanic thug and has his arm broken and shoulder torn by his claws. He is on the verge of blacking out when a young girl (dressed as Robin) jumps in and takes down the boss with a crowbar. She helps Batman escapes and the police show up shortly thereafter to arrest the boss. Seems Batman has a new sidekick, and makes it back to the Batcave to recuperate. However, the mutant boss lets everyone know from custody that he defeated the Batman and that he will wreak further vengeance on Commissioner Gordon and anyone else who gets in his way.

Across town, the spineless mayor comes out of hiding and blames the escalation on Batman. He further claims that he will step in and put an end to things by speaking with the mutant’s leader. However, this meeting turns bad when the mutant leader decides to kills the Mayor. He is placed back in prison, but Batman soon arranges it so he can escape. He then confronts him again, this time in a mud pit in the middle of the dump where he plans to beat him by outsmarting him. He also makes sure that every member of the mutant gang is there to watch, because he knows their reign of terror will only end if they see their leader defeated firsthand.

This time around, the fight is still a tough slog, but Batman utilizes his experience and his environment to his advantage. The mud slows the boss down, he manages to partially blind him with his own blood and the mud, then paralyze his limps with a nerve pinch and a broken elbow. He then gets him down into the mud where he latches onto one his legs and breaks it, immobilizing him completely. He then pounds him senselessly into the mud while the mutants look on in horror and awe. The mutants are beat and the city is safe, except that people are now forming a new gang that wants to emulate the Batman (echoes of The Dark Knight here!). Just like in DK, Batman is not too enthused about their existence and begins cracking down on them. Meanwhile, at Arkham, a dispirited and anesthetized Joker sees Batman on the TV, and comes back to life! Seems Batman’s resurgence is attracting his old enemies…

Meanwhile, on Corto Maltese, Superman’s actions have prompted the Soviets to up the ante. They fire an ICBM at the island, but rather than being a nuke, its a massive EM missile. Superman diverts it to a desert where it explodes and harms no civilians, but he is almost killed in the blast. A interesting point, since we know that Superman draws his power from the sun, it seems reasonable that an uncontrolled blast of EM radiation would harm him. And of course, it does! Also, Gotham and every other city in the area is hit by a massive black out. Chaos ensues, and Batman must travel to the prisons and take control of all the gang members who are escaping. Since many are Batman wannabees, he manages to recruit them to restore some order to the streets. The power comes on shortly thereafter, and once again, the media and experts debate the events. Most condemn Batman’s latest actions, even though he has helped to save many lives.

But Batman has his own theories. Mainly, he blames Superman for selling out to the government, and sees the escalation with the Soviets as a direct result. During a conversation before Superman sets off, he tells Wayne (they use each others’ real names!) that he will have to go up against him if he persists. Wayne replies by saying that he no intention of going back into retirement, and that if it comes to a confrontation “may the best man win”. Superman is incredulous, but he has his answer!

Back in Gotham, the Joker is finding new ways to create mayhem. Having convinced the same crop of doctors that he’s cured, he goes on a talk show where he is confronted by a Dr. Ruth look-a-like. After some innane psychobabble, he kills Ruth with a poisoned kiss and unleashes his smilex gas into the theatre, killing everyone. He then runs to an amusement park where he is intercepted by Batman, and more mayhem ensues. Batman finally corners him in a sewer where they have their final fight! The Joker stabs him a few times in the stomach, and Batman manages to cripple him by breaking his neck. The Joker then finishes it, snapping what’s left of his neck and killing himself. He dies laughing…

Again, Batman narrowly escapes, and Superman recovers enough to return to Gotham. After some preparations, Batman is prepared for his final fight! Getting himself into some powered armor, assembling his usual arsenal of tools, and enlisting the help of Green Arrow, someone else who resents Superman. He’s also sure to pop a pill, who’s purpose is as yet unclear. Then, he picks the location for their fight, the very street corner where Bruce Wayne’s parents were gunned down. The fight goes to plan, with Batman managing to hurt Superman in a number of ways (he’s still recovering from the EM missile attack) and stalling him long enough for Green Arrow to fire off his special package! A kryptonite tipped arrow!

Naturally, Superman catches the arrow, but the tip then explodes into a million tiny particles which he then becomes poisoned with. Severely weakened, Batman puts his hands around Superman’s throat and delivers his last words to him. Essentially, he tells them he sold them out, that he could never understand that the world doesn’t make sense, that his ideological purity makes him a pawn, and that he beat him! But then, Batman suffers from what appears to be a heart attack and collapses. The police arrive to see Superman kneeling over his old friends body, guarding it even though they were locked in mortal combat not a moment before.

The comic then moves to Batman’s funeral. Things are just wrapping up when Superman notices something. A faint sound coming from the ground, and someone suspicious looking standing nearby, waiting. In short, what he hears is heartbeats, the suspicious figure is the new Robin girl, and she’s waiting with a shovel. Remember the pill Batman took? Turns out it was a designer drug that imitates the appearance of death (little Romeo and Juliet there, but okay). His case contained a hidden oxygen supply, and everything was timed so Robin could dig him up before it ran out. Superman looks at her and winks. He’s onto them, but has decided to let his friend go.

Once he’s emerged, we see Batman moving to a new location with the new Robin and a set of accolades. From there, they will rebuild, create a new Batcave and start fighting crime anew. The public thinks he’s dead, but his spirit will live on through a new generation of masked crime fighters. Yeah! Batman forever!

(Synopsis—>):
A possible downside to this comic was Miller’s frequent use of media types and talking heads to advance the story. While it is interesting – and effective when it comes to providing transitions and pacing – the way it constantly helps advance the plot and provide background can get a little tiring at times. By volume four its like, we get it, Batman is a controversial media topic, and the so-called experts are morons! That, plus the fact that Miller really seemed to want to stack public opinion against Batman in the story got a little heavy-handed at times.

Still, it did manage to give some depth and a certain social context to the story. Not to mention realism, seeing as how any vigilante, no matter how effective, would not fail to stir up resentment and fear amongst those in power. All throughout the novel, it is made painfully clear that authorities condemn Batman because they don’t want to appear condoning, regardless of how needed he really is. At the same time, those same people seem to want to think that former villains have been successfully rehabilitated, if for no other reason than because they want to believe their methods are effective.

And I said, this book did seem to be borrowing pretty heavily from The Watchmen. However, these elements were well suited to the Batman universe, and given the fact that Dr. Manhattan was openly compared to Superman, it wasn’t like the borrowing was all one way. What was also well executed was the reason for Superman’s employment by the government. Not only was he doing it to protect his friends; according to Batman, it had much to do with his naivete and idealistic outlook. The boy from Smallville just couldn’t help but take orders, it was what he was born to do. And when society and the government turned on them, he effectively sold them out by agreeing to do their bidding.

This last element was something I especially liked about this graphic novel, the it explored the differences between Batman, Superman, and pitted them against each other. Fans of DC comics couldn’t help but have a big fangasm, but it was also highly appropriate. Whereas Superman had always been the clean-cut, cardboard cut-out superhero, Batman was always the darker, grittier, more realistic one. And in both cases, this was presented in very real terms, showing the upside and downside of these traits. Whereas Superman is seen by Batman as a fool and sell-out, the complete flip-side of how others see him, Batman is portrayed as a sort of social fascist in addition to be being a brave vigilante. This dichotomy serves to elevate the content and makes everything feel more realistic.

The Dark Knight Returns, ladies and gentlemen. Read it, love it, then look for traces of it in The Dark Knight Rises. I’m telling ya, it’s in there. Look for it!

Starship Troopers

Here we have yet another example of a sci-fi book adapted to film, with significant changes being made! And, much like with Blade Runner and 2001: Space Odyssey, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whereas the novel was an in-depth look at the timeless nature of military service with some rather interesting social commentary thrown in, the movie was all about a war with a hostile alien species. In the book, there really wasn’t much about the Bugs or humanity’s fight with them by comparison. Rather than being the focal point of the story, it operated as a sort of background to the main premise, which was the armed forces and their role in society. So its not surprising that in adapting the book to the big screen, they chose to focus on the war stuff and gloss over the rest. While this allowed for a more entertaining movie, it didn’t come without its share of consequences.

(Background—>)
Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, the movie was to have a polarizing effect on audiences and critics, much like the original novel. Though Heinlein was a gifted author and one of the “Big Three” of science fiction (along with Asimov and Clarke) I can honestly say that Starship Troopers was not his best work. But it was the themes and the central message of the book that seemed to divide the critical and the general reception it got. Was he advocating violence without a second thought and a quasi-fascist social code, or simply depicting a future society in which these things came to be? Was he serious when he said that how violence had solved more problems in history than any other means? Or was he being cynical or facetious? Who knows? In fact, Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers largely to explain and defend his feelings about the military and nuclear policy. Much like his feelings, the book was nuanced, and was therefore likely to elicit mixed reactions.

In any case, the movie had the same effect on audiences. Some were mad that it wasn’t faithful to the original novel – no doubt because of all the pretty actors and actresses and all that love triangle crap – while others were happy for the changes, hailing it for its action, costumes, settings and the way it expanded on the Bug War. Me? I kind of fall in the middle camp. While I appreciate the acting and the fact that we actually got to see much of what was explained being acted out, I didn’t much care for the cast or the teenage-type drama. I felt that it was a good effort, and a fitting addition to Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi lineup (director of such movies as Robocop and Total Recall). Still, it would have benefited from a different cast and some script changes, though it would have definitely done less well as the box office as a result. In the end, its best when filed under guilty pleasures; kind of like Independence Day, but with way less cheese!

Oh, and for the record, I will NOT be getting into this movie’s sequels! Far as I’m concerned, the less said about them the better! I’ve caught snippets and what I saw was so demoralizing, I knew I couldn’t sit through the whole thing. I can’t even begin to wonder what the hell the producers were thinking there! So… avoiding those, let’s get into the first and, as far as I’m concerned, only Starship Troopers movie worth mentioning!

(Content—>)
So this bad boy opens with a scene from Klendathu, the battle scene on the Bug homeworld that’s pretty important later on in the movie. This set up does much to establish tension and give us a preview of the movie’s later carnage. Then, cut to the comparatively domestic scene of Johnny Rico (played by Casper Van Dien) in his high school History and Moral Philosophy class. Here, we get a watered down version of what Heinlein said in the original book, emphasizing the quasi-fascist morality of voting and violence, and sans the moral responsibility stuff. But what are you gonna do? This movie is an action film, talking about the legitimacy of violence can only be seen as a set-up for how they plan to deal with a hostile alien species, one that does not understand mercy, coexistence or peace. And of course, that annoying triangle I mentioned is clear even at this point. Johnny loves Carmen (Denise Richards), Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer) loves Johnny, and Carmen… she wants to be a pilot. We get an earful on the Federation and how service entitles one to basic rights – like voting – something civilians don’t enjoy, and in the course of a futuristic football scene, we see Carmen get all gaga for some dude who is a naval pilot.

In the ensuring scenes, during graduation and a whole lot of expository talk about life decisions, it becomes painfully obvious what’s going to happen. Carmen is going to join the Federation, Johnny is going to join to follow her, Dizzy is going to join to follow him, and Carmen is going to dump Rico. We also meet Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), who is a latent psychic and is joining and getting bumped to the top because of his abilities. It’s also obvious that he’s going to develop the ability to psychically communicate with people. Why? Because he said he couldn’t… yet! And of course, Johnny and Carmen are annoying as hell. That might be prejudice on my part, but I have a hard time taking anything Denise Richards does seriously. Casper Van Diem? Can’t get past that cleft chin! And frankly, he looks the part of the clean-cut American teenager too well! And with a name like Johnny Rico, someone who’s actually Latino would have seemed like a better bet. Having these pretty cardboard cut-outs as stand-ins might have been effective as an ironic statement, pitting beauty against the ugliness of war. But that’s just not what I got from this. Seems the beauty was meant to be a box-office draw, the violence strictly for entertainment purposes. Didn’t really get the sense that there was any real meaning or depth at work there.

Quick sidenote: NONE of this happened in the novel! For starters, Johnny did have feelings for a girl named Carmen, but she was NOT his girlfriend nor even a central character, nor did she figure that prominently in his decision to join the Federation. In addition, Dizzy Flores was a MAN! Yes, in the novel this woman who was in fact a fellow grunt in the Mobile Infantry, not some love-sick girl who followed Johnny into the service (and incidentally, to her death). Oh, and the man who was Johnny’s moral philosophy teacher, Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside) was not the same man who led the Roughnecks! In the novel, it was a man named DuBois (a stand-in for Heinlein himself) who was the teacher. Rasczak was a commander he would later meet, and who would promptly die off during the Klendathu battle. This last aspect I can understand. Having his teacher return later in the book as his CO makes sense, since the teacher was a citizen in both the book and movie. And killing him off promptly wouldn’t make much sense, not if you plan on expanding on the action. But the rest… yeah, box-office draw!

Oh, and I should also mention that whereas the novel was nuanced in its approach, the movie was not. Clearly, Verhoeven chose to go with the quasi-fascist school of thought on this one. Regardless of what he thought about Heinlein message, he clearly thought the movie would be more effective if the whole issue of service and citizenship were presented in very rigid terms. Civilians have few rights, society is informed by propaganda reels instead of independent news sources, and those who serve are “meat for the grinder” (an actual line from the recruiting sergeant!). While this proved interesting at times, it was not in keeping with the message of the book. In some cases, these elements were wholesale inventions of the writers and not mere exaggerations on what was in the novel. Still, they did at times feel like a fitting commentary on the nature of war and social issues, which WAS in keeping with the spirit of the novel (if not the actual content).

Anyway, we soon get to the myriad of scenes where Rico is receiving his training at the hands Sgt. Zim (masterfully protrayed by Clancy Brown). He and his buds are run through a training regimen that is far more brutal than anything in the novel (constant cries of “medic!” demonstrate this point) but the point here is clearly to draw parallels with the kinds of brutal discipline which the Marines and other elite military units are notorious for. We also get scenes of Carmen’s comparatively cushy experiences, and in the course of her video correspondence with Rico, she of course sends him a Dear John. This, coupled with a terrible accident in which a grunt dies, causes Rico to resign. He, however, changes his mind when a sudden and unprovoked attack (echoes of Pearl Harbor) destroys his home of Beunos Aires and kills his folks. Again, not in the book people! While Rico’s training was explored at length in the novel, there was none of this high-drama stuff where he got dumped, felt responsible for getting someone killed, and took a whole bunch of whippings. Nor did he suddenly quit, only to have walk out interrupted by a declaration of war. In addition, his folks did not die in the attack. In fact, he went on to meet his father later in the novel when he himself enlisted so he could do his part for the war. This served as a resolution between Rico and his father in the novel, after the latter disowned him for joining the military against his wishes. But, like I said, high-drama! It was effective, of course; each and every one of us was probably thinking “he can’t quit now! It’s payback time!” And the news reel that followed in the wake of the attack was very effective at parodying war propaganda films, something they did often in the film. Like many elements, it gives us a sense of the timelessness of war, while at the same time highlighting the quasi-fascist nature of the Federation.

Oh, and did I mention that somewhere in between all that we got the infamous coed shower scene? Now why was it that this scene was so totally over-hyped! Are audiences really this smut-obsessed and/or puritanical? I mean really people, we saw a few breasts and Van Dien’s ass! What’s all the hubbub about? Word is that Verhoeven even got undressed while shooting just to show the actors that it wasn’t that big a deal. How’s that for irony? And considering what he got Sharon Stone and Elizabeth Berkley to do in Basic Instinct and Showgirls, this was NOTHING! Why then should this have been such a focal point when it came to the movie’s reception? But that’s Hollywood for ya. A little T&A and suddenly everybody starts going gaga and losing their minds!

Moving on, after a few minor scenes with a reunion between Rico and Carmen, Rico brawling with her new pilot boyfriend (showing the obvious conflict between the services) and the grunts getting tattoos that say “Death From Above” (a common war slogan meant to draw parallels with past wars), we cut to the battle scene at Klendathu. And as I said earlier, this first action scene was a big improvement on the book. For one, we actually get to see the fighting! Second, the Bugs are presented as a hostile swarm, not as semi-intelligent things with actual lasers mounted to their limbs (as they were in the book). I have to say I approve of this take on things, either the Bugs are an individually sentient species or a hive mind. Can’t have it both ways! Second, the scene is a faithful recreation of an invasion, reminiscent of D-Day and Iwo Jima any other “storming the beach” kind of scenario. It’s full of tension, the usual last-minute reassurances (“remember your training and you will make it back alive”), the lull as the troops hit the ground and wait for the shooting… and then, the shooting! Oh, the shooting! Yes, for the next few minutes, carnage ensues as the Bugs counter-attack, the MI get the crap kicked out of them and are forced to beat a hasty retreat. And, fulfilling the preview from the beginning, Rico gets mortally wounded, on camera no less! In orbit, the fleet does little better, getting schmucked by plasma streams – reminiscent of AAA and Flack – and are also forced to withdraw. Cue the hospital scene immediately afterwards, with all kinds of gore and a massive list full of MIA and KIA scrolling by on a huge wall screen to drive the point home. “The Bugs don’t take prisoners,” says Mr. Navy pilot man. Yeah, we get it, it was a disaster!

But of course, Rico is alive. Turns out his listing as KIA was a clerical error or something (another familiar army theme!) Another reunion follows as they get reassigned to the Rough Necks and find that their former teacher, Mr. Rasczak, is the CO. Yep, they are now part of Rasczak’s Roughnecks! WHOO! And true to form, Michael Ironside is missing a limb. That guy always seems to be losing limbs in Verhoeven’s movies! And at this point, its a clear indication of what service to the Federation means, aka. sacrifice! They take part in a new mission designed to gather intel, Rico and Flores have their hot sex scene, and then we cut to a pitch battle where they are forced to defend a fort while waiting for emergency evac. As plot contrivances would have it, their rescue just happens to be Carmen and her pilot beau! Yet another reunion! And of course, Ironside loses MORE limbs and dies as Rico is forced to kill him, Dizzy is killed too, and Rico is left crestfallen but hardened. Seems he’s finally learned what it means to be a citizen! Good for him! Too bad Dizzy had to die in order to get into Rico’s pants though. But according to her, as she said while bleeding out on the shuttle’s floor, it was worth it. And I thought guys were willing to die to get laid!

After her funeral we get another (wait for it!) REUNION, as NPH walks in wearing what is clearly an SS officer’s uniform. More quasi-fascist symbolism! And just to make it clear that he’s become an unfeeling Machiavellian dick, his eyes are sunken in and he talks like a real hard-ass now. “Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t approve (of my methods). Well that’s too bad! We’re in this for the species, boys and girls! It all comes down to numbers, they have more!” And of course, he lets them in on their plan. Seems they believe there is a sort of “brain bug” on the planet below, that each colony of drones has one that runs it like a hive mind. Which means they got another mission to fly: attack, and capture the brain! Rico, having come up through the ranks, is now CO of the Roughnecks – Rico’s Roughneck! Whoo! Convenient that his name starts with an R, keeping the tradition of alliteration alive! Naturally, events conspire to place Carmen in harms way. Her ship is destroyed by that same plasma-AAA, a little reminder that the Fleet has it tough too! And she and her beau crash land on the planet and are taken prisoner by the brain. It sucks out her beau’s brains (ick!) and is about to do her in too. But luckily, Rico and his squad come to her rescue, guided by NPH’s ability to telepathically communicate with humans now (told you he’d figure it out!). And they have one final (do I even need to say it?) reunion on the field of battle. And they even bring back Sgt. Zim, seems he’s busted himself to private just so he could get into combat and capture the brain bug himself! So, with their reunion complete, the movie ends with a propaganda reel telling the people of Earth to enlist because they need more bodies! Rico, Carmen and NPH all get some screen time as examples of what to live up to, cue the war music and roll credits!

(Synopsis—>)
Okay, so the things I liked about this film. Yes, the propaganda reels and the familiar war themes were pretty effective. Rather than being a cheap way to elicit emotions (the way Emmerich does with landmarks), it felt like there was some genuine attempts to get into the collective unconscious and call up the memory of wars past. Ultimately, it felt like the goal here was to keep with the spirit of Heinlein’s novel and show how conflict is timeless and how our experience of it mirrors those of people in the past. Things like unprovoked attacks, military disasters, recruiting drives, propaganda and inspirational pieces… all of these are common experiences and got a pretty good treatment by Verhoeven. While Verhoeven’s interpretation of the Federation as a militarized and obviously right-wing state was also debatable, he did do a good job demonstrating just how it would look and feel for those living in it. It was done subtly, much like he had done with Robocop, the viewer is not told these things as much as shown them, giving them the freedom to figure it out on their own. And the action scenes were pretty damn good! Especially the attack on Klendathu, that one really set a good tone. You really got the rah rah tempo as the MI are hitting the ground and running into the fight, and you felt pretty let down in the aftermath when it became clear what a disaster it was. “100,000 dead in the first hour” said the propaganda reel in the very next scene. 100,000? Damn! Just like Dieppe, Omaha Beach, and Iwo Jima, only not real! Also, the one-liners that were ripped from history. Like “Death from Above”, a slogan that was coined by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne in World War II, and popularized by the film Apocalypse Now. Or “C’mon you apes, you wanna live forever?”, a paraphrasing of Sgt Dan Daley seminal words: “C’mon you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever!” at the Battle of Belleau Wood in WWI. And as for “Everybody fights, nobody quits” or “Fleet does the flying, Mobile Infantry does the dying”… probably all Heinlein, but good lines nonetheless!

Also, with regards to another major difference between the novel and the movie: fans of the former could not have failed to notice that the MI were fighting in body armor and firing rifles and bazookas, whereas in the novel they were in powered armor and used all kinds of weapons. Slug throwers, flame throwers, lasers, tactical nukes. This change probably offended some, but I have to imagine the studios felt that this kind of thing wasn’t too practical. For one, its hard to create the sense of a grand battle, the kind that reminds one of D-Day, Iwo Jima and Hamburger Hill, if you’ve got small groups of soldiers in big suits jetpacking around. That kind of technology naturally calls for smaller attack squads, not a massive hoard of grunts throwing themselves into a wholesale slaughter. Second, from a strictly technical standpoint, recreating this would have meant either meant some expensive animatronics or just a whole lot of CGI. The Bugs were already being digitally added, so if they were faithful to the book, chances are they’d have gone the cheaper route and done all the action sequences on computer. That would kind of be a rip for the actors and would have made the battles look a lot less realistic. And speaking of CGI, this was yet another thing that the movie did right. I have no idea which company provided the digital effects, but they were good! Even now, the effects still stand up and look impressive. At no point do you really feel like, “holy crap, that looked totally fake!” And I’ve said as much of some of the Star Wars prequels, and that was with Lucasarts doing the effects!

Okay, now for the bad… First up, the cast: Casper Van Dien did a reasonably good job of acting, but as I’ve said already, he simultaneously doesn’t look the part and looks it too much. He’s too clean-cut, buffed-out, and that cleft chin of his is TOTALLY DISTRACTING! At the same time, there’s no way in hell this guy’s a Johnny Rico. Rico is a Latino name, the boy’s from Buenos Aires! Much the same is true of Denise “Who did I have to screw to become a star” Richards and Dina Meyer. Whereas Meyer is a good actress and veteran of sci-fi, Richards is a one-trick pony who does nothing but smile and look wooden! More to the point, neither of them look Argentinian, and with names like Ibanez and Flores, you kind of get the impression that they should! Might seem like a minor point, but I truly felt that this clean-cut white cast was a whitewash! Did the studios think they wouldn’t be able to sell as many tickets if they used people other than these shiney-happy poster children? As I said at the beginning, this might have been a neat point if the idea was to contrast such homey looking people with the realities of war and a militarized state. It might have even been cool as a subtle parallel between the Federation and the Aryanism of the Nazis. But I mean… c’mon! I think we can all agree that Verhoeven and the producers were just hedging their bets. Some pretty faces and partial nudity to bring in the teens, some deeper themes to pacify the critics and Heinlein fans. But ultimately, the movie erred on the side of pandering and angered critics and Heinlein fans for the most part. That’s what you get when you hedge your bets. So don’t hedge em, people, place em! Even if the end products sucks, you’ll know it sucked honestly.

Also, there’s the matter of the plot being full of reunions and convenient plot twists that are simply annoying! In an entire universe full of soldiers, pilots and service people, how is it that these four friends from Buenos Aires keep meeting up? And the final scene where Rico, Carmen and Carl are all together and its like “we all knew we’d be best friends forever” is just plain dumb! For one, one of the four is dead! To boot, she’s dead because she loved Rico and followed him into the service, and hence the war. In short, Rico’s unrequited love is kinda responsible for her death, and she died saying it was worth it because she finally got to have him. Are you seriously telling me he would have absolutely no feelings about that? And of course there’s the whole love triangle thing, which in the first place is annoying and childish! I get that some drama was needed in the course of the adaptation (the novel was kinda dry!), but this was not the way to go about it. Something a little less teeny-bopper would have been just as effective, and probably way more respectable.

Aside from that, the plot is relatively solid, moving between segments that tell us about the war, the Bugs, and the Federation without getting bogged down in the myriad descriptions that Heinlein’s book focused on. This much I liked because it focused on what, for me, seemed what the book itself was supposed to be about. Aka. the Bug War, and not a detailed description of the armed services in the future. I have since learned that Heinlein had a purpose in writing this book other than just creating a fantastical story about aliens and ships, but with a name like Starship Troopers, you figure its supposed to be a war movie with an actual war. Anyone adapting this movie to film would likely be inclined to follow the same course Verhoeven did, making it a cool shoot-em up with some relatable themes about the timelessness of war.

But in the end, Verhoeven and his movie managed to succeed financially, even though he pissed off a lot of critics and Heinlein fans in the process. The movie was a big box office draw, it remains a sort of cult hit for some, and for people like me (and I do believe I am in the majority here) it’s an enduring guilty pleasure. Even though it was followed by some horrible, horrible sequels (which I will not speak of further!) and was the beginning of Denise Richard’s appalling career, the movie was still fun, enjoyable, and had just enough going on to be somewhat respectable… at times. Hell, just talking about it makes me kinda watch it again. Maybe I shall, maybe I shall…

Starship Troopers:
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Plot: 6/10
Direction: 8/10
Total: 7/10