Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Starship Troopers: Invasion</strong> (2012)

(On Cable TV, January 2013)  It’s almost reasonable that this fourth film in the Verhoeven-influenced series would make the jump to full CGI animation: after all, most of the film takes place in entirely-synthetic environments, with aliens battling human soldiers in oversized power-suits.  Never mind if the human CGI characters haven’t improved much since 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within: they’re now much cheaper to produce (Final Fantasy was a prestige $137M production released in thousands of movie theaters; Invasion is a direct-to-video release) and actors don’t have to negotiate harder if they’re asked to perform nude scenes.  (In the spirit of the franchise, Invasion has one naked locker-room scene.  In CGI, it’s about as appealing as you’d think –which is to say, not very much.)  At least the format enables the screenwriters to indulge into complicated action sequences that could never be executed otherwise: Invasion spends much of its time in space, battling evil bugs aboard space stations and starships.  The goal here is to deliver on a lot of military Science Fiction action against evil bugs, and the film more or less manages to deliver –albeit with some rough pacing issues in the first act, as undistinguishable characters are set up with the goal of killing off most of them before the end of the film.  Invasion plays roughshod with physics (an action beat early in the film makes no sense considering that there’s no gravity in space, but the entire film assumes that there is) and Parisian geography, but there are a few neat ideas here and there (being able to use the powered armor adds a bit of action), a good sense of mounting tension and at least a nod at the series’ continuity –although I’m told that the story makes more sense if you’ve seen the Roughneck animated series.  While the result may be a bit formulaic, the screenwriting possibilities offered by CGI make it better than either the second or third film in the series… and that’s significant: Invasion may be most interesting considered, alongside Sony stable-mate Resident Evil: Degeneration, as an early example of how animation can be used to extend the life of SF franchises (perhaps soon allowing characters to remain forever young despite their connection to an actor).  As it is, the film isn’t a complete waste of time, although you may have to like military SF in order to make the best of it.

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