Starship Troopers 3: Marauder


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Starship Troopers (1997) was a sweeping Paul Verhoeven sci-fi epic based on a Robert Heinlein book written for juveniles. The first film presented a semi-satirical, semi-inspirational portrayal of a cosmic struggle between humans and space insects for control of this part of the galaxy, with a particular focus on some high school seniors in Buenos Aires. It was a film that could be viewed as an anti-war, anti-Fascism satire or as an inspirational pro-war film which argues that a strong and unified Earth government would be necessary in order for our race to survive a struggle for survival. The director was effectively able to balance the surface story with the underlying irony and iconoclasm.

The second film (2004) was not only a weak film, but a faithless sequel as well. The story dropped the original characters, all the satire, and  the global overview, choosing to focus on a single front of the war, a lonely outpost on a faraway planet in which a group of humans made a desperate Alamo-like stand against a bug army.

The third film ignores #2 and is actually a sequel to the first one. In essence, it's the film that the previous one should have been. The satirical propaganda commercials are back. The political machinations and inter-service rivalries are back. There are bigger and better warrior bugs, smarter brain bugs, another human psychic who can converse with bugs, more co-ed group nudity, and many other elements which tend to make the film a logical continuation of the original. The new hook in episode three is that the future humans, who have fundamentally been atheistic for some time, are turning back to God as the war efforts sour. The fascist government is trying to suppress freedom of religion, even as it also steps up further restrictions on freedom of speech. Meanwhile, the human psychics determine that the bugs also believe in God!

The main character is back as well. Johnny Rico (Casper van Dien), the ultra-tough hero who worked his way up from private to lieutenant in the first film with his rugged battlefield prowess, is now a colonel protecting an entire planet, at least until his regiment suffers an ignominious defeat. (We later learn that the failure of Rico's defense strategy was caused by a human traitor).

SST3 does fall short of the first film in several places:

(1) There are too many cheesy (and repetitive) CGI effects

(2) There are too many prolonged battle sequences at the expense of character development.  There are lots of characters identified by name, and the film seems to promise that we will get to know them, then just drops the character exposition in favor of explosions, gunfights, and fires. For example, Van Dien assembles an elite team of seven crack infantry soldiers for a grueling mission, and the team members are introduced in a long nude sequence as they are fitted for armor suits, ala Robocop. But after that scene, they are never really shown again. We see their suits in battle action, but when it comes to what's inside the suits, we see only Van Dien. Even Van Dien's story will be a mystery to you if you have not seen the first film. The audience never really gets to know the humans. We root for them only because it's our nature to root for handsome humans fighting against ugly insects.

(3) Some of the acting is sub-par, most notably Cecile Breccia, who doesn't seem to speak any English at all. I suppose she learned her lines phonetically, but I often failed to grasp what she was trying to say.

It's not as good as the original, but it's good enough to have turned me around on the series, and it's excellent for a direct-to-vid effort. Like the original, it strikes a pretty good balance between stirring heroics, satire, and parallels to our own times. It also introduces some interesting ideas. Because SST2 was so boring, I didn't have any enthusiasm for #3 before I actually started watching it, but now that I've seen SST3, I am looking forward to a fourth film, assuming that it will continue the Johnny Rico storyline with Van Dien.


* to be announced








  No major reviews online.


n/a IMDB summary (of 10)

The excellent original is rated 6.8, the disappointing first sequel is standing at 3.5. By extrapolation, this one should be somewhere in the 5s.


Straight to DVD. IMDb says the budget was $20 million, which would make it one of the most expensive non-theatrical releases, but that reference is not sourced.



  • Nicole Tepper, Cecile Breccia and Tanya van Graan appear in the community nude scene, which is in excellent light. Van Graan shows breasts and buns, Tepper shows breasts, Breccia shows everything, although her frontal is in the shadows.
  • Casper Van Dien shows his bum. There is a brief flash of a crotch where a penis should be, but the object actually there is a cover of some kind. Two other men flash bums in long distance shots.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Satisfactory genre fare, even by theatrical standards. Just fine for a straight-to-DVD effort.