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Movies That Fans Of Starship Troopers Need To Watch Next

Paul Verhoeven's satirical masterpiece, Starship Troopers, was criminally misunderstood on its release. Many critics and viewers didn't comprehend that the jingoistic and borderline fascist army of hotties weren't supposed to be heroic. Critic Jeff Vice of the Deseret News called the movie "a nonstop splatterfest so devoid of taste and logic that it makes even the most brainless summer blockbuster look intelligent."

But as the years have gone by, people have finally started to get the joke. The ragtag cadets at the heart of the film — played by Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, and Neil Patrick Harris — are brainwashed tools of an imperialist power. They're the invading party, and the bugs they battle are just defending their home. Verhoeven took Robert Heinlein's novel as loose source material and did what he does best: camouflage social commentary in boobs and blood.

But there are so many other movies that use sci-fi to skewer society. Whether you like your movies "so bad they're good" or just the regular kind of good, there are plenty of filmmakers who take their love of fifties science fiction and turn it into a referendum on their world.

Mars Attacks argues that America deserves to be destroyed

The same review that called Starship Troopers "devoid of taste and logic" also called Tim Burton's Mars Attacks "purposely awful." But it is a labor of love. Burton the Burbank weirdo was a fan of the Mars Attacks trading cards for years, loving their gory and gooey vignettes of alien destruction. The film Mars Attacks is Burton's take on nineties America, full of superficial and cruel people in positions of power.

Mars Attacks has one up on Starship Troopers, because it is a star-studded affair. The film came after Burton had revived superhero movies with Batman and Batman Returns. Jack Nicholson, who had played the Joker as directed by Burton, plays two characters. He is joined by his fellow Arkham Asylum denizen Danny DeVito, who personified the Penguin in Batman Returns. Beyond the Batman folks, we have Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Lukas Haas, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Pierce Brosnan in the middle of his Bond streak. 

The production of Mars Attacks is probably its greatest strength. Burton used the real demolition of the Landmark Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the film, to give the destruction of Jack Nicholson's casino real oomph. Model-actress Lisa Marie plays a disguised alien that inspired drag queen Juno Birch's iconic alien presentation. If you want a film as slick and as mean as Starship Troopers, watch Mars Attacks.

Continue your sympathetic alien journey with District 9

The South African science fiction film District 9 uses alternate history to explore issues of xenophobia and segregation. Directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, the film imagines a world where an alliance spacecraft appeared above Johannesburg, South Africa in 1982. Ever since, humans and aliens have been somewhat tensely coexisting. Like the aliens in Starship Troopers, the "prawns" are buglike and hard for humans to fully understand. And because humans are humans, that means the outsiders are treated poorly. 

District 9 centers on one alien (Christopher Johnson, played by Jason Cope) and one human (Wikus van de Merwe, played by Sharlto Copely) as they try to escape the South African government. Van de Merwe is exposed to alien fuel that slowly turns him into a prawn. He works with Christopher Johnson to help the alien escape earth, so that he can save his son and return van de Merwe to his human form. Whereas Starship Troopers stays in the human viewpoint, District 9 asks you to empathize with the aliens from the beginning.

Southland Tales is another critically divisive epic

Like Starship Troopers, Richard Kelly's Southland Tales was panned when it first came out. Famously, the sophomore effort from the Donnie Darko director was booed when it premiered at Cannes (via The A.V. Club). Southland Tales also skews America's militaristic leanings, but did so during the hyper-patriotic fallout of 9/11. Viewers just weren't ready for a movie about future drug-addicted soldiers, terrorist improv groups, and Kevin Smith discovering time travel.

Southland Tales is a big, ambitious mess of a movie. The cast list is almost as insane as the plot: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Wallace Shawn, Amy Poehler, Justin Timberlake, Nora Dunn, Bai Ling, Mandy Moore, Jon Lovitz, Seann William Scott, and Seann William Scott again. Although the critical consensus on the film has softened somewhat since it came out, Southland Tales hasn't gone through the full image rehab that Starship Troopers has. It does have Justin Timberlake dancing to a Killers song, which Troopers is sadly lacking. 

The Cannes cut was just released on blu-ray, so now is the perfect time to see this eerily prescient film.

Revisit another Verhoeven classic with RoboCop

Paul Verhoeven is too weird to be contained. His movies — such as Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Showgirls, and Hollow Man – are known for their big ideas and even bigger explosions. Perhaps the film that best juggles Verhoeven's twin impulses of social commentary and action is RoboCop. The 1987 film stars Peter Weller as office Alex Murphy. Killed in the line of duty, Weller is resurrected as the titular robotic cop. The film was a surprise hit, earning $53.4 million in its initial release.

RoboCop satirizes consumer culture, police brutality, the invasiveness of tech in our lives, and police overspending. Fans of Starship Troopers will definitely be able to trace themes across the two movies.

Like Starship Troopers, RoboCop uses ultraviolence to satirize America's bloodlust. But rather than directed at "hostile" aliens, RoboCop attacks criminals with cartoonish violence. It is peak '80s filmmaking: guns aplenty, a mismatched cop duo, and anxiety about America's growing wealth divide.