Producer Of Unwanted 'Starship Troopers' Remake Says New Film Will Be Less Violent, More Patriotic Than Original

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by Oliver Lyttelton
June 27, 2012 2:45 PM
46 Comments
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"Starship Troopers" just might be Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece. The Dutch helmer has several films that might run close to that title -- "Flesh & Blood," "Soldier Of Orange," "Black Book" and his Hollywood debut "Robocop." But it's his epic, slyly satirical adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's sci-fi novel about the war on a bug-like alien race that we keep coming back to rewatch and rewatch, and feels like the culmination of everything he worked towards across his career. Which is why of all the remakes circulating out there, the one we're most puzzled by is "Starship Troopers."

After all, it's just under fifteen years since the release of Verhoeven's film, which is still on heavy rotation on TV, and the original was strong enough that we don't feel the need for a different take, and successful enough that it spawned a couple of direct-to-video sequels. But apparently that's not good enough for producer Neal Moritz and Toby Jaffe; already with one unnecessary Verhoeven remake in the can with "Total Recall", the men behind "xXx," "Stealth" and (to be fair) "21 Jump Street" announced last year that they were working on a new take on Heinlein's source material, penned by "X-Men First Class" writers Edward Miller and Zack Stenz.

And as part of an extensive and excellent feature on Verhoeven's sci-fi pictures in the new issue of Empire, Jaffe has spilled the beans on the approach for the "Starship Troopers" remake. Are they planning on bringing in someone like Bobcat Goldthwait for an even more remorselessly satirical take on the material?

Don't be ridiculous. In Jaffe's words, the plan is for a take that's closer to the right-wing militarism of Heinlein's books, rather than the sly subversion of the 1997 film. "Verhoeven took it from one extreme and made it almost comical, whereas our job, as I see it, is to be a little more faithful to the book, and ground it a little more. The novel is extremely widely read, even today; it's on school and university reading lists, and it's read at all the military academies in the United States. Verhoeven had an agenda that made his movie a critique of fascism, whereas I think Heinlein was writing from the perspective of someone who had served in World War II as an American soldier, and was writing it at the time of the Korean War. Y'know, one man's fascism is another man's patriotism..." Just to sum up again: One. Man's. Fascism. Is. Another. Man's. Patriotism.

And as for the hard R-rating, full of equal-opportunity nudity and grisly deaths, of the original? Nowhere to be found. "The more expensive a film is, the harder it is now to have it be that violent," Jaffe says. "It's about re-interpreting it with a very new sensibility for a new generation that doesn't really know the first film. It gives the studio, and us as producers, the opportunity to reintroduce it in a new way." And of course, there's another reason to remake it: more visual effects! "What Verhoeven was able to do with the bug army in 1997 was phenomenal at the time, but working in a visual-effects renaissance as we are, just logically we have the ability to do so much more now. We can do the Jump Suits, for example, which I don't think they could have done before," Jaffe told Empire, referring to the giant mech suits in which the heroes fight the bugs in Heinlein's novel.

So to sum up: less satire, less gore, more robots, more patriotism. We would call this the stupidest decision in Hollywood history, but this is an industry that didn't just develop a movie based on "Battleship," but also made it, released it, and were surprised when they lost nine figures on it. So, you know. We're not against another take on "Starship Troopers" in principle, and we're tentatively hopeful about next year's "Robocop" remake, which is assembling an interesting cast and has some decent behind-the-scenes-talent on board.

But it sounds like "Starship Troopers" is in exactly the wrong hands, and it doesn't just make us abandon all hope for that film, but also the same team's "Total Recall" remake. We'll find out it if that's capable of restoring our interest when it hits theaters on August 3rd, while "Starship Troopers" will, assuming all involved don't wake up and see the light, follow on in a few years. For more on Verhoeven's sci-fi movies, pick up the excellent new Empire, which is in stores now.

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46 Comments

  • Giovanni | March 30, 2014 9:07 PMReply

    Yet one more incompetent misinterpretation or deliberate misconstruing of the book content - there is no 'right wing militarism' in the book (for those of you still dumb enough to subscribe to the left and right circus, this might be impossible to understand) - it isn't supported by the text. No fascism, right or left wing nationalism exist of any sort - again - it simply and utterly is not supported by the text. It is a limited democracy where if you use force (voting) you have to balance that power with responsibility - sacrifice. As stated in the book, there has ALWAYS been limits on the franchise of voting. The only difference in ST is that you must balance that power with responsibility - and for you jack wagons out there that have reading comprehension problems - you can be a cook or a woman too, so long as you risked your life and retired, you can hold office or vote.

    Of course, this is just like millions of people misconstruing libertarianism or misinterpreting it; same goes for crossfit, veganism or raw foodism - anything better, new and outnumbered is first ignored, laughed and then attacked. I don't care if you agree or not, most of you LOVE to ruin the world by muddying the message, lying and spreading disinformation, intentionally or by virtue of being inept at critical thinking and possessing integrity.

    That said, I'm interested in the new movie, but if these clowns did the new Total Recall, I'm still worried that they're going to mess it up.

  • Jay | January 11, 2014 10:46 PMReply

    "Just to sum up again: One. Man's. Fascism. Is. Another. Man's. Patriotism."

    Oh no, a movie with a message that will challenge the viewer to think!

    Looks like the new SST movie is actually happening. I'm looking forward to it. I loved the book. That doesn't mean that I agreed with all of Heinlein's politics, but it's a cerebral piece of literature and it gave me a lot to think about. That's good.

    I didn't think that Verhoven's movie was terrible (although "masterpiece" is a ridiculous overstatement). It was an extremely blunt lampooning of the equally blunt nationalistic propaganda flicks they were making back in forties and fifties. It's not a hard subject to satirize, and Verhoven was hardly the first (or the best) to do it. If you lay it on too thick, which he did, you end up looking as silly as your intended target. But I digress.

    My frustration with his film is that he called it Starship Troopers, even though it had NOTHING to do with the RJH's book. As a result, boobs like you are whining about an unwanted movie remake, when the reality is that an actual Starship Troopers movie has never been made. Anyway, I hope they get the movie made, I hope they have the good sense to stay true to the source material, I hope that it comes to be known as the "real SST movie," and I hope that makes Paul Verhoven sad.

  • Will | May 4, 2013 8:03 PMReply

    "Paul Verhoven's masterpiece"???? You have got to be kidding with that crap. Starship Troopers is the only film I've ever walked out in the middle of. If Verhoeven ever had a "masterpiece" (which I doubt) it was probably Flesh and Blood from 1985. His version of Heinlein's novel should earn him about one good kick in the crotch and that's it.

  • Tim | December 24, 2013 3:09 PM

    Agree completely with Will here. ST was the worst book adaptation I have ever seen. Even the gratuitous nudity didn't save the movie for me. Except for the title and a few character names it had nothing in common with the book. I hope the remake is closer to the feel of the book.

  • virre | August 23, 2013 1:24 PM

    What a bunch of unapperciativ sissys in the comments. The 1997 film was excellent and still holds up as one of the best Sci-fic movies of all time. As a fan of it i'm really worried that the "remake" will be another "transformers" in space were you have these redicilously silly "marauders" that just lay waste to everything. (How entertaining? go watch batmen instead ffs)

    Verhoeven did an excellent job of keeping the movie serious while mixing in satire.
    Its a masterpiece without doubt and if you walked out of it you gotta have quite a shitty taste.

  • Jay | April 20, 2013 5:25 PMReply

    First off, I'm not sure why the book is labeled as "fascist." The government that Heinlein describes is a limited democracy. Why is that fascist, exactly? I keep hearing people say that, but I have yet to see that argument defended.

    Second, the movie was okay as a satirical take on a WWII propaganda flick, but it had NOTHING to do with the source material. It puzzles me that there are people lamenting the remake as an affront to Vorhoeven, when his movie was a deliberate lampooning of the book. Screw Vorhoeven. He made a satirical version of a book that he didn't even read, but he has the audacity to be offended that others are remaking his work?

    I'd love to a decent attempt at addressing Heinlein's ideas.

  • Thomas | November 18, 2013 11:41 AM

    I think the biggest problem most of the people that are, not looking forward to this, are having is they don't read books. Apparently since someone wants to make a movie that is actually closer to the book than a blatant satire sci-fi, it's a bad idea. Don't get me wrong I love the movie and the overly done propaganda. Yet I have a feeling if I wasn't 12 when it had come out and had read the book before the movie I would have been extremely disappointing.

  • Shayne | November 21, 2012 4:34 AMReply

    This sounds awful. This sounds almost as bad as the American Psycho remake. The thing that made the first one fun was the over-the-top action and comedic value. It was interesting. But I guess all anyone cares about is making things look pretty. The first one wasn't even that action packed, considering it takes an hour to get to the action. We'll see how this yet another unwelcome remake does. No one does anything original anymore...

  • G-Max | October 13, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    The author of this article is clearly insane. For one thing, Robocop was Verhoeven's best movie. For another, an adaptation should NEVER take a dump all over its own source material. The '97 Starship Troopers movie was a huge mistake, and it looks like this time around, they're actually doing it right.

  • John S | March 26, 2013 4:17 AM

    I agree. I hated the first movie as it was pure silliness. But if they are going to make a movie that actually follows the plot of Robert Heinlein's book, that is another matter entirely. This could be a great movie.

  • Jeff | October 10, 2012 2:20 PMReply

    Amusingly enough, the movie ended up having about the same amount of gore and nudity. They just got rid of the political satire, re-added the power armor, bumped Rico out of the main character slot, and did it all in CGI.

  • Thomas | August 28, 2012 11:20 PMReply

    "I always get the shakes before a drop." If that line doesn't starts the reboot the movie will be all downhill from there.

  • tiagombp | February 25, 2013 3:26 PM

    Seconded.

  • StlJarhead | August 22, 2012 7:52 PMReply

    While I'm all for a more faithful remake of the novel, it should be pointed out to Jaffe that Heinlein did NOT serve during WWII. He graduated from the US Naval Academy, served on destroyers, including a cruise under war orders after the Panay Incident (maybe some of the ignorant people round here will bother to google that--we almost went to war with Japan in 1937), and then was medically discharged after contracting tuberculosis, prior to WWII. He did serve his country during the war, but as an engineer in defense work.

  • LLorax0 | August 13, 2012 4:18 AMReply

    I wish HollyWood would stop making movies based off books that have very little to do with the book. I would much rather seeing a movie closer to the source material, actually that goes for everything comicbooks and games as well. If there has ever been something you loved than they annouced a movie version and you saw it and it was horribly done you know what I mean. Now The Hunger Games was well done, and Twilight was close to the book.

  • Sarah | December 3, 2012 7:51 PM

    Hunger Games and Twilight don't have much of a plot anyway, so it was probably an easy adaptation.

  • Ken | August 11, 2012 10:39 PMReply

    WOLFISH,

    You are mostly on target but got a story point wrong. Rico was from the Phillipines. His native language was Tagalog (see the last chapter for the brief reference) and his mother was visiting her sister in Buenos Aires.

    The Hollywood elites claim to love the original only because they hate Heinlein and his principals. The movie was nothing but boobs, blood and bugs with no intelligence to it. Verhooven demolished an outstanding opportunity to take a book which has been a favorite for decades to the screen. Any similarity between the book and that movie was an accident.

  • Wolfish | July 31, 2012 6:24 AMReply

    fas·cism
    [fash -iz-uhm]
    - noun
    1. dictatorship emphasizing aggressive nationalism,
    militarism, and racism
    - Related Forms
    fa·scis·tic - adjective
    pro·fas·cism - noun
    fas·cist - noun, adjective
    Origin:
    1915–20; < It fascismo, equiv. to fasc(io) bundle, political
    group (see FASCES ) + -ismo -ISM

    Political set up in Heinlein's novel: ANYONE can be a citizen so long as they serve. You cannot be medically exempt from service, if you a blind paraplegic they will find a job for you. It won't be useful but if you're insistant on serving they will let you. After serving your term, and ONLY after you've left service, will you be eligible to stand for government and vote for people to represent you. The philosophy behind this is that the vast majority of people will put themselves and their own interest before others, where as those that have served in the military have put others before their own lives let alone their interests and will vote for things that will benefit the majority over the minority.

    Our current political system:
    -90%+ of the wealth controlled by 1% of the people
    -Mitt Romney, running for election for past 8 years, is rediculously rich and has had several records pop up showing shady dealings from when he was at Bain Capital
    -"Millionaires Row" of Parliment, a chunk of the party in power currently who are worth over a million, current party in power has cut taxes for top earners to 40% and cut down social benefits.

    Heinlein put forward his political/philosophical theory based on the idea that democracy in it's current state would fail. Democracy in it's current state is failing.

    Vorhoeven read two chapters, not even getting NEAR the History and Moral Philosophy class (during Rico's officer training) that explained the idea behind the concept, decided he knew it and that it was fascist. Furthered his own poliical agenda like he had in all his other movies and completely disregarded the source material. Movie snobs who love him hailed it as fantastic saitre.

    Now someone is proposing a remake that is closer to the source material and everyone of you is up in arms about it, somehow thinking the movie is better than the book and that the director is somehow deserving of more respect than the original author has been afforded.

    First off: You don't seem to know what Facism is, which is why I've included the definition.
    Second: One of the main components of facism is racism (I'm assuming, possibly incorrectly that the director thought this was being done in the Human vs. Bug war), the main character of the book was Juan "Johnny" Rico, an 18 year old, hispanic FROM Buenos Ares (not his parents visiting there like in the movie), and for thar role they chose a 30 year old Casper van Dien, in fact replacing ALL the main characters with white people in their thirties. Hollywood casting seems more racist/facist (neopotism is rife and we all know it) than Heinlein's book.
    Third: Just because YOU don't want this remake does not mean that it is unwanted by ALL. I for one am very much looking forward to a more accurate adaption of the novel and think that it will be a better movie.

  • Giovanni | March 30, 2014 9:21 PM

    Notice how all the one liner trolls who don't know how to read don't respond to this one.

  • dan | August 22, 2012 8:42 PM

    @A=REGULAR-JOE -- "Without the famous title no one would think twice about the film." I'm pretty sure the only reason people think twice about the film is Verhoeven and his contribution, though. If the movie had been played straight, and not for laughs, and didn't contain any of its creepily resonant subtext, I can't imagine anyone would consider it anything more than a cool whiz-bang action movie. Verhoeven's the only reason people have an interest in it and most who like it tend to dislike Heinlein's novel.

  • a=regular-joe | August 5, 2012 6:08 PM

    Wolfish,

    In the book, Juan Rico was NOT from Argentina. He was from the Philippines, and his native language was Tagalog ( see the end of the book). His mother was visiting Buenos Ares when the bugs destroyed it. His father was supposed to be with her, but was delayed by business. ( I have read the book more than 100 times)

    And I agree that Vorhoeven's adaptation was simply awful, like all of his stupid pulp films. It was not satire, it was a pulp film made for pulp audiences, plain and simple. Without the famous title no one would think twice about the film.

    I also have to say that while I was a huge fan of Heinlein and this book in particular as a youth, as an adult I have come to realize that while Heinlein's analysis may have merit, his solution is worse than the problem he is trying to solve. He was jaded by his service in WWII and felt that the world should put he and his fellow vets in charge as a reward for their service. Preposterous. I would not want to live in the world he imagines.

  • thatguy | August 2, 2012 6:21 AM

    You seem to imply that Hispanic is a race. It is not. You are also forgetting that Argentina was settled by many Europeans (ie white) so the casting may not have been as off as you indictate.

  • Mike Hilsher | July 18, 2012 4:32 PMReply

    It was a huge steaming pile of crap that should not be re-run but burned and the ashes scattered.

    Any one that wants to do a "remake" and can manage to read more than 2 chapters of the original book can probably make a decent film. Anything to obscure the existence of the 'un-original' that can treat it with the huge dollop of disrespect that it deserves would be welcomed by me.

  • Giovanni | March 30, 2014 9:16 PM

    @Dan:

    Have to respond to this lunkhead:

    "I'm pretty sure the only reason people think twice about the film is Verhoeven and his contribution."

    Lmao, his 'contribution', lol. Robert Heinlein is one of the best authors that ever lived, at the very least it is debatable. The only reason Paul would ever be remembered is b/c he shamelessly took work written by Heinlein and tried to destroy it.

  • willie mosley | December 22, 2012 3:27 PM

    Time out! The bottom line is the Juan "johnnie" Rico is not Hispanic. He is of phillipino descent. And if I recall he and his family was from the Midwest region of the united state based on the book

  • mike | June 29, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    Verhoeven made a campy take on an excellent SF novel. Why can't people read the source material of Hollywood properties? If this new version is more respectful of and adherent to Heinlein's novel, I say, why NOT have a "re imagining" or whatever that isn't just out to piss on a legacy and flash genitalia (No matter the gender) and make fun of a respected pieces of genre fiction?

  • d | June 29, 2012 9:07 PM

    Well, I think most people are aware of the source material, and that Verhoeven's movie made fun of it. That's why most of us like it! A "serious" take on it just sounds awful, and I think if it obscures the existence of the original, that'd be unfortunate. However successful their movie may be *as an adaptation,* these guys won't come close to making a better movie.

  • ScreamFace | June 28, 2012 7:41 AMReply

    So the film is actually going to be an out right pro-fascism propaganda piece this time?
    They're embracing that? Not the lampooning of that from the Verhoeven film.

    It might make for an interesting comparison. One version ripping apart facism. Clearly a head of it's time in it's satire and subversion. Then in the not to distant future. When the film is more relevant than ever. Almost seeming on the nose about current times. They make a new version, which actually is pro fascism. This time for kids!

  • Giovanni | March 30, 2014 9:18 PM

    Have you thought about reading the book before you post nonsense? If you have, your reading comprehension is a serious tragedy.

  • Starship Trooper | August 23, 2012 11:39 PM

    Have you read the book? Loser.

  • chris | June 28, 2012 5:32 AMReply

    There needs to be a ban on all remakes of any tv show/movie less than 50 years old

  • Mike Hilsher | July 18, 2012 4:36 PM

    The original book wasn't pro-fascism. Pick it up and read, Verhoeven admitted that he only managed two chapters before he decided he knew all about it. You can't even call it legitimate satire if you fail to actually read the work you're supposedly satarizing can you? What do you call a remake of an awful film that was mislabeling of the original work?

  • Rob C! | June 28, 2012 1:14 PM

    No way. I agree that remakes can be awful and make me agrivated as well, but Hitchcock did it!

  • olli | June 28, 2012 2:33 AMReply

    “And of course, there's another reason to remake it: more visual effects! "What Verhoeven was able to do with the bug army in 1997 was phenomenal at the time, but working in a visual-effects renaissance as we are, just logically we have the ability to do so much more now. “

    Well yes, now they can make all those wonderful practical visual effects that still work perfectly today digital. So what? Watching ST today is still an event with awesome effects. Doing them digitally may make them look just more…digital. That’s a problem with a lot of digital effects. They often just look too clean, too perfect, too digital. While I do like big visual effects spectacles, I just hope they get the story right, otherwise we will have another one of those empty big budgets extravaganzas that you begin to forget right after leaving the theatre.
    And let’s hope they don’t get a hack like Rob Cohen or Jonathan Liebesman to direct. With a decent director, a good screenwriter and other decent talent in front of and behind the camera, I might give this a chance.

  • max | June 27, 2012 4:36 PMReply

    And I thought I was bummed out by all those sequels to Verhoeven movies made by other people. It's a travesty that there's such a profound lack of respect for this great director.

    Saw this on Twitter recently, posted after a screening of RoboCop: Question to Paul Verhoeven: "How do you feel about ROBOCOP & TOTAL RECALL being remade?" Verhoeven answer: "Beyond depressed."

  • ed | June 28, 2012 10:00 AM

    Stevo the Magnificent: "more right-wing fascism, YEAH BABY!"

  • Stevo the Magnificent | June 27, 2012 11:11 PM

    Whilst I understand Verhoeven's sentiment, I don't sympathise with him as he's getting ready to make a film that's outright blasphemy! As for the 'Starship Troopers' re-make, if they stick more faithfully to the novel - less satire and more right-wing fascism, YEAH BABY! - and have the Jump Suits engaged in a massive bug hunt par excellence, then I'll be happy, and the R-rating be darned...

  • Arch | June 27, 2012 3:44 PMReply

    This is so weird I'm speechless....

  • Comrade Jones | June 28, 2012 12:39 AM

    Blasphemy? Blasphemy is an antiquated term for crimes of fiction against fiction. You see the hypocrisy in that? A man chooses to retell a hugely influential mythology and you judge the work as blasphemy when the bible itself is just a collection of stories--not a scientific accounts. As for your opinion on the film, I hope you are employing sarcasm and not honesty. Remaking either film, Starship Troopers or Total Recall, is idiotic and serves as a testament to Hollywood's unabashed interest in resurrecting and reaping the profits from past art.

  • Gabe Toro | June 27, 2012 3:16 PMReply

    HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE

  • Calum | June 27, 2012 3:06 PMReply

    It sounds like Jaffe has missed the point entirely and apparently a large lack of imagination.

  • caro | June 27, 2012 3:04 PMReply

    what is the interest? Starship Troopers by Verhoeven was great because it was violent and a parody of war alien movies with Barbie and ken

  • Chase | June 27, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    I wanted this? But I also wanted a live action version with the original cast. Not some CGI-crap fest.

  • c | June 27, 2012 2:57 PM

    Nor do I want this remake. Nor the CGI sequel thats coming out.

  • Cinematic_high | June 27, 2012 2:52 PMReply

    Less violent and more patriotic? Y'all are about to lose some money.....

  • david | June 27, 2012 2:49 PMReply

    god, these guys are idiots.

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