Casper Van Dien in 'Starship Troopers.' / Courtesy of TriStar Pictures and Touchstone Pictures
(Asbury Park Press) -- The beastly bugs of "Starship Troopers" may have finally met their match: the men of RiffTrax.
Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett will be poking fun at Paul
Verhoeven's 1997 sci-fi epic on Thursday, Aug. 15, with "RiffTrax Live:
Starship Troopers." The three performers will be cracking jokes as the
movie plays live at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, and the event will be
simulcast to more than 600 movie theaters across the country.
veterans of the Peabody Award-winning cult classic television series
"Mystery Science Theater 3000," Nelson, Murphy and Corbett have
unfinished business when it comes to taking "Starship Troopers" to task.
don't really think 'Starship Troopers' was super popular out of the
gate, but it has gotten a little momentum over the years and just a kind
of notoriety among certain people who love it," Corbett said. "But (on
'MST3K') we did these blockbuster specials here and there and Oscar
specials - obviously it wasn't one of the Oscar specials - and we would
take chunks of the electronic press kit that the studio had and just
riff the things that they gave us. We couldn't do any more than the
clips they gave us and all journalists, basically. So we had a little
brush with it before and we thought it would be kind of fun (to take on
the whole film)."
the surface, "Starship Troopers" sounds like a fairly straightforward
Hollywood misfire, as '90s matinee-idols to be Casper Van Dien and
Denise Richards join forces with a transitional-period Neil Patrick
Harris, a predictably creepy Jake Busey and character actors from Clancy
Brown to Michael Ironside to wage intergalactic war against giant alien
bugs rendered through computer graphics that haven't exactly aged
look below the surface and it's easy to see that Verhoeven, adapting
Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel, had bigger things on his mind, resulting
in what Corbett rightly called "a strange stew."
weird part about 'Starship Troopers' is that Verhoeven is on record
calling it a satire, and there's a certain amount of truth to that,
definitely in the media and propaganda parts," Corbett said. "It's
pretty sharp and even kind of good satire, I think.
"We usually try to avoid stuff that's a little too self-aware and
funny and satirical, but that actually makes up a pretty tiny chunk of
the movie when all is said and done. The rest of it is pretty straight
action, just an action and slightly horror-ish movie with a dollop of
soap opera in the relationships between the youngsters."
the big screen
With its pretty-but-bland
leads and not entirely convincing giant bug effects, "Starship
Troopers" isn't terribly far removed from the classic sci-fi and horror
dreck that Corbett and his compadres tore into during the storied run of
you put aside the satirical elements - which, like I said, I think are
actually pretty good but are pretty short little blips in the movie - it
does have that familiar feel with bigger special effects, more digital
of course," Corbett said. "And there's more gore certainly. People are
always getting chopped in half by the giant shrimpy looking bugs. But
yeah, it's charisma-free cardboard heroes, the relationships are played
pretty straight down the line and they're not very interesting in any
Murphy and Corbett have been working together under the RiffTrax banner
since 2006, primarily releasing MP3 riffs on Hollywood blockbusters and
Z-movie oddities alike through their website, www.rifftrax.com.
the last few years, they've worked with NCM Fathom Events on a number
of "RiffTrax Live" events, typically centered on public domain horror
flicks in the "MST3K" tradition, such as Hal Warren's "Manos: The Hands
of Fate" (1966) and Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (1959). This
year, they decided they were ready to take things to the next level.
Live: Starship Troopers" is the result of a crowd-funding campaign on
Kickstarter that raised over $264,000 earlier this year.
was a complex undertaking because we really wanted to do (2008's)
'Twilight,' " Corbett said. "But we tried to make it crystal clear - and
I think we did, nobody has really complained that really read the
(Kickstarter page) - that we were going to try for that first, and
barring that, we were going to try to get some kind of big studio movie
with a name. Because we've been limited so far to either public domain
movies or stuff that we can make a pretty good deal for. And the amount
of stuff that is like that and can support a Fathom show gets pretty
thin after a while, as we've discovered.''
this was an experiment to see if we could get some sort of a Hollywood
name picture," he continued. "And we got pretty far with 'Twilight,'
actually. It's just that when it came right down to it (the people at
the studio) were reluctant because it's an ongoing franchise and they
don't really need us to make money."