The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1997
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 129 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, Michael Ironside, Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Written by: Ed Neumeier
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 5, 2008
"The only good bug is a dead bug
From the bridge of the Fleet Battlestation Ticonderoga, with its sweeping galactic views, to the desolate terrain of planet Klendathu, teeming with shrieking, fire-spitting, brain-sucking special effects creatures, acclaimed director PAUL VERHOEVEN crafts a dazzling epic based on Robert A. Heinlein's classic sci-fi adventure. CASPER VAN DIEN, DINA MEYER, DENISE RICHARDS, JAKE BUSEY, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, PATRICK MULDOON, and MICHAEL IRONSIDE star as the courageous soldiers who travel to the distant and desolate Klendathu system for the ultimate showdown between the species.
My Take:My introduction to Starship Troopers was on DVD in 1998. I didn't catch it while it was in theaters and knew very little about it. I believe I read a review of the DVD and thought it looked like a film that would feature good audio and video quality. It has been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since. When the Superbit DVD was released in 2003 I added that to my collection. The film is based on the book by Robert A. Heinlein. I have not read the book but from what I understand the book and film are quite different. Regardless I think that the movie is fine in its own right. This is not great cinema but its lots of fun. I have seen it several times and enjoy the interplay between the characters. There is plenty of action and senseless violence which is a pre-requisite when you are in the mood for a kick back and chill action flick. It is definitely clear that Director Paul Verhoeven uses satire to make historical, military and societal references that are pointed. For me the film holds up pretty well even 11 years after its release. This pertains to the story's telling as well as the special effects that help to drive it. The cast is made up of young actors who were essentially unknowns at the time. Neil Patrick Harris had attained some status during his Doogie Howser years. There are several seasoned actors sprinkled throughout if you look closely. Rue McClanahan, Clancy Brown, Mashall Bell, Bruce Gray, and Juliann McCarthy to name a few. This is strictly a personal preference but I always preferred Dina Meyer to Denise Richards. I could never understand why Johnny waited so long to hook up with Dizzy?
Starship Troopers didn't do well at the box office but found its audience when it was released on home video. It is not so much an intellectual film but is more of an instinctive one. I never tire of its quick pace, visual/special effects, and shoot em up style story telling.
The rating is for graphic violence and gore, nudity, sexual references, and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Starship Troopers comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 mbps.
I thought that the quality of the Superbit DVD video for this film was quite good and I looked forward to seeing it in high definition. I noticed that grain was noticeably more pronounced here than on the DVD. I went back and compared and it is present on the DVD but its lower resolution makes it less prominent. A couple of shots had grainy looking backgrounds that made them look noisy. An example of this is right after the debacle on Big K. Two analysts are on the Fednet network debating the potential of the Arachnids for independent thought. When the older white haired analyst is in the frame, look at the wall behind her. It appears grainy and slightly noisy. I also noticed posterization during the scene where Dizzy and Johnny have words in the cafeteria just after they arrive at boot camp. Look at the bruise on Dizzy's neck as she says her piece and moves to the right out of the frame. I saw signs of artificial sharpening and some minor edge enhancement. This was clearly evident on Planet P during the last battle sequences in the film. All of this sounds worse than it was and none of it overtly impacted fidelity.
Images were sharp with respectable detail and clarity. Some scenes were sharper than others which had an affect on the rendering of fine detail. Colors were bold, vibrant and overly saturated (check out the football game sequence and the dance that followed). I found them to be quite pleasing without appearing excessive or cartoonish. Skin tones had good tonal depth, delineation and lifelike texture. Blacks were nice and deep which made the shots of outer space look dynamic against the contrasting gray of the starship hulls, stars, planets etc. Bright scenes had plenty of pop while maintaining good visible detail and gradation in whites and grays. The scenes shot in the Badlands of Hells Half Acre in Wyoming (Planet P) looked stunning. The detail and three dimensional quality of the rocky structures and landscapes was impressive.
The Dolby TrueHD audio didn't provide as big a leap in improvement over the lossy DTS audio from the Superbit DVD as I expected. Dynamics were quite good which provided the plethora of explosions, gunfire, aircraft engines, giant insect footfalls etc. with effective solidity and impact. The mix was fairly aggressive when it came to surround use. To me the surround activity sometimes tended to overpower the front three channels. This made front to rear (and vice versa) pans less seamless which was distracting sometimes. The result was still a very enjoyable surround sound experience. Dialogue and sound effects through the front three channels was excellent with tight focus and clear imaging during onscreen panning sequences. Low frequencies supported the soundtrack's elements but just didn't have bass extension that reached the deep frequencies that I would have liked. That is not to imply that the bass lacked impact or quality. I had no trouble feeling the bass energy generated by my subwoofers during the bombastic battle sequences featured in the film.
Sony has included a plethora of bonus content that is sure to please fans of ST. It is all in standard definition and includes new features as well as content from prior DVD releases. Put some time aside if you plan to watch them all. You will get a total view of the film from the inside and out. This will include discussions of the book from which the film is based (loosely), its adaptation, how the film was received and why. There is a short making of documentary, two short segments on the design of the starships and a bug test piece that shows a test subject interacting with CGI bugs. The Know your foe documentary is broken into 5 short segments that look at the design of each of the bug species. Lastly, there are FX comparisons, five deleted scenes, scene breakdowns (animatics versus final product), and two actor screen tests.
The all new exclusive content features Sony's Blu-Wizard option, and an interactive Recruitment Test game. Neither of these requires a player higher than BD Profile 1.0. The FedNet mode option is pretty nice and when enabled features pop up trivia and interviews with a surrounding interface that resembles the FedNet broadcasts used in the film. This feature requires a BD Profile 1.1 player. There are BD-Live content/features that are not currently available but will be by release date. This will require a BD Profile 2.0 player for access. There is lots of data contained here especially if you are a fan of this movie. I found most of it well worth the time it took to view it. Some of it you may have seen before but there are lots of new features as well. Have fun.
- Director and Cast commentary
- Commentary with Paul Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier
- Death from above: Documentary
- Know your foe: Documentary
- The spaceships from Starship Troopers: Featurette
- FX comparison: Featurette
- Storyboard comparison: Featurette
- The making of Starship Troopers
- Deleted scenes
- Screen tests
- Scene deconstructions
All new exclusive special features:
- FedNet Mode - PiP with Graphics-in-picture
- Recruitment test - trivia challenge: Test your Trooper skills !
- BD-Live !
Starship Troopers is a film that achieved status among its fans for various reasons. I don't look at it so much from a satirical stand point (although I do recognize and appreciate that aspect) but more for its viscerally entertaining qualities. I find that this film doesn't seem to get old and I enjoy re-visiting it from time to time. I looked forward to its release on Blu-ray and am happy to report that Sony has done a fine job with this catalog title release. It offers solid audio/video quality and a host of extras that are sure to please fans and novices alike. Fans can feel free to pick this one up. If you have never seen it and appreciate genre films like this then its recommended.
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JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package