Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was the first film sequel to Starship Troopers. It was released in 2004 as a low-budget, direct-to-DVD film. It had a $7 million dollar budget, in contrast to the $100 million of the original. Even though it got a Direct-to-Video released in America, it got theatrical release in Japan and Spain. It has almost no relationship to the novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, unlike the first Starship Troopers movie, which was loosely based on the characters and storyline of the book (though much different in tone). None of the characters from the original movie appear in this sequel (except in recycled footage), although the actress Brenda Strong appears in both movies (as different characters: Captain Deladier in the first film and twin sister Dede Rake in the second film). The movie was directed by Phil Tippett, who is also the founder of Tippett Studio, the visual effects company that created the creature and miniature effects for the original film.
The film's plot is the Attack on Hotel Delta 1-8-5, which is set on a planet inhabited by the Arachnids where a unit of soldiers called Bravo Six finds themselves pinned down and surrounded on all sides by Arachnid forces. Even with their new rail gun technology and assistance from psychic Lieutenant, the Arachnid assault overwhelms them and General Jack Shepherd (Ed Lauter) decides to make a last stand with several of his soldiers, allowing the majority of his surviving troops to withdraw. The plan works, and the soldiers, including Sergeant Dede Rake (Brenda Strong), psychic Lieutenant Pavlov Dill (Lawrence Monoson), Private Jill Sandee (Sandrine Holt) and her lover Private Duff Horton (Jason-Shane Scott), and Private Lei Sahara (Colleen Porch) escape. Despite reaching relative safety, the team is whittled down by deadly storms and arachnid ambushes. Among these deaths is the only member of the platoon with a radio, Corporal Thom Kobe (Brian Tee). Lieutenant Dill finds himself unable to command his soldiers as he receives traumatic visions of utter annihilation. He takes his anger out on Private Lei Sahara, who is revealed to have been psychic but lost reliable control of her psychic abilities as puberty took place, which seems to be rather typical.
The remaining refugees find themselves sheltering within Hotel Delta 1-8-5, an old and abandoned structure containing Captain Dax (Richard Burgi), a disgraced (though with a fantastic combat record) soldier who killed his commanding officer and was sealed in a furnace. As a deadly dust storm kicks up, they find themselves without communications or back-up for a lengthy period of time and protect themselves through the use of Electric Pillars with limited batteries. Dax takes command, to the annoyance of Dill, and the two develop a grudge. Dax sees Dill as an incompetent commander, while Dill sees Dax as a traitor to the Federation.
Soon after defenses for Hotel Delta 1-8-5 are set up, Shepherd and three soldiers return. While the troops in the outpost originally think that all but one of their comrades has reached safety, it becomes clear that, in fact, all their comrades but Shepherd died, who was soon rescued by three marauding soldiers. These troops include the comatose Private Charlie Soda (Kelly Carlson), the odd acting Tech Sergeant Ari Peck (J. P. Manoux), and the medic Private Joe Griff (Ed Quinn). With the help of the newcomers they solve all of their technical issues, including lack of communication, and now need only to wait for a Fleet Landing Boat to rescue them.
Tempers flare at the base as Soda seduces Horton and Sandee, in a rage, finds a new significant other in Griff. However, both Horton and Sandee soon act strange, as do many other survivors. Sahara seems to have become ill as she has nightmares and wakes up vomiting. Accidentally brushing Griff's hands brings on a psychic vision in Sahara. Sahara goes to Rake for advice and tells her what went on. Rake suggests that Sahara is simply pregnant and that pregnancy not only brings on the symptoms she describes, but makes girls temperamental and makes them think that "they know it all". Eventually the female protagonist, Private Sahara, and the male ex-hero of the federation, Dax, find themselves facing a new breed of Arachnid, a bug that infests the human body by forcing open the mouth and propagating inside the brain. They come to Dill with their news and make amends with him, also learning that he only made bad decisions because of the visions he was receiving and that he felt incredibly guilty over the loss of men under his command in the escape. Sahara tells Dill that she has been receiving parts of the vision as well, and Dill reveals to Sahara that an occasional side-effect of pregnancy is the temporary return of the psychic abilities lost at puberty.
Soon after making amends, Dill corners several infected soldiers and intends for them to be captured and studied, but as he insults them another infected soldier kills him with a knife that Dax gave him earlier. The assault is blamed on Dax (his name was inscribed on the knife) and he is imprisoned.
Eventually a dropship arrives but all of the troopers are infected including Shepherd, who, if returned to Earth, may infect the leaders of the Federation. Rake takes multiple adrenaline shots and kills many infected soldiers, then frees Dax, but kills herself because she has also been infected. Sahara and Dax kill the rest of the infected troops, and make it to the roof of the structure to confront the infected Shepherd just as the pulse fences give way. Just as Shepherd is about to be rescued, Dax kills him with two rifles held akimbo. He gets Sahara onto the ship and tells the bewildered crew that she holds information vital to the survival of the Federation. He then refuses to get onto the ship ("Murderers don't go home.") and goes down in a blaze of glory, fending off bugs.
Although Dax is labeled as a Hero of the Federation, Dax's death is shrouded in propaganda as the Federation uses his end as a means of recruitment, symbolized by the final line of the recruiting officer, talking of Sahara's child: "We need fresh meat for the grinder". Sahara, alarmed, flees the recruiting station. This act shows to have no effect on the recruiter, showing the movie's take on military idealism.
Notes and Trivia
- Actors Casper Van Dien and Clancy Brown were unable to replay their roles in this film. However, Casper was able to replay Johnny for the third film.
Starship Troopers references
- The intro is a reminiscent of the one in Star Wars films.
- Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is referenced in the intro FedNet video.
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Like Starship Troopers, the visual effects were created by Tippett Studio, except the FedNet animations by VCE.COM under Peter Kuran.
However, unlike Starship Troopers (which was directed by Paul Verhoeven), Starship Troopers 2 was directed by Tippett Studio founder/StarTroop creature visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett, while Edward Neumeier and Jon Davison stayed on board as writer and producer, respectively. TriStar Pictures remained as the sole distributor without Touchstone Pictures' consultancy.
The film, which cost $7 million, was a very difficult one indeed.
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Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (July 2008)
The movie was largely panned by both reviews and fans of the original movie and the book upon which they are based.
Among the most common complaints are the low production values and the lack of any returning characters from the book or movie (Clancy Brown was originally set to return as Zim, his character from the first film, but the actor was unavailable, having already committed to Carnivàle; the part was thus heavily rewritten and became 'Dax'). This is even more evident when this movie is compared to the original Heinlein book. Instead of showing the Mobile Infantry as a cohesive force, they are shown to be a politically motivated group where officers send soldiers to their death for their own advancement.
Many criticized the sequel as lacking any element of the humor and slapstick action of the original, and for taking itself "too seriously".