Tuesday, February 18, 2014

RiffTrax Live - Starship Troopers

RiffTrax Live - Starship Troopers
As you may be able to tell from reading this blog, I love the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, as well as one of its present day incarnations, RiffTrax. This is the second RiffTrax Live I've seen. The first was a brand new live riff Manos: The Hands of Fate back in August 2012 which I wrote about in an earlier post.
In February of 2013, the stars of RiffTrax (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) began a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the rights to riff Twilight in theaters. Despite raising almost five times their goal, the rights to Twilight could not be secured as the film distributors of Twilight (Summit Entertainment) felt they could still make money off the movie due to the ongoing popularity of the series. The only Twilight movie I've ever seen was the RiffTrax version of the first one, so I was disappointed when this didn't pan out. I was a little worried when I first heard that the backup plan was Starship Troopers. I like Starship Troopers and consider it to be a good film. Starship Troopers has some flaws and is weaker than Paul Verhoeven's other sci-fi action movies (Robocop and Total Recall) but the satire is excellent and the special effects still hold up well. The tone of Starship Troopers tongue-in-cheek unlike Twilight which is a serious attempt at a romantic story. I've never read the original Starship Troopers novel by Robert Heinlein but understand that the movie version is more satirizing the source material than functioning as an adaptation. I've also heard that several elements from the book such as the powered armor suits didn't make it into Verhoeven's film version. Despite my concerns about the selection (I guess Cool as Ice was unavailable to riff?) I went into it with an open mind as the RiffTrax guys had never led my astray before.

The RiffTrax Live for Starship Troopers was on August 15th 2013. This was a Thursday night as usual for Rifftrax Live since new movies come out every Friday. I went with a bunch of friends who are fans of MST3K and RiffTrax, though not all of them had seen Starship Troopers before. I found this one to be hilarious! My initial concerns about the choice of movie went away pretty quickly as I was immediately laughing my head off which continued throughout the course of the film. Below was one of my favorite riffs:
Movie: "I need a corporal. You're it until you're dead or 'til I find somebody better."
Mike's Riff: "Awww, my wedding vows!"
RiffTrax doesn't use as many obscure references as MST3K did, but I was probably one of the few people to get the Teapot Dome scandal joke. The RiffTrax crew also had a great host segment of sorts which dealt with the nudity. I'm not sure why these scenes were censored since the rest of this violent R-rated movie is not, but the gorilla-grams were so funny that it ended up being a perfect way to handle those scenes.
Watching this movie again made me think that Starship Troopers is more of a propaganda piece from that universe than just a satire of propaganda with emphasis on the romance of the "teens" and the information scenes of "Would You Like to Know More?" I'm glad I got to see this movie on on the big screen, even with the riffs. My friends who hadn't seen Starship Troopers were even interested in seeing the movie without the riffs. I still think Starship Troopers is a good movie, but there is plenty of material prime for riffing such as Denise Richards' performance (which made for some great recurring jokes), the romance subplots (they go on too long though I think this is part of the satire), and all the opportunities for bug/crustacean jokes such as "David Cronenberg's A Bug's Life" and "All the best meat is in the claw!"
I had a blast and highly recommend this RiffTrax. This riff is be available for download here, so if you're a fan of RiffTrax and have already seen Starship Troopers but somehow missed this in theaters, be sure to check it out. Like that 70s disco song, you will lose your heart to a Starship Trooper!


  1. Thanks, I had a great time and am definitely looking forward to seeing RiffTrax Live again!