' ' Cinema Romantico: License to Boast: Starship Troopers

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

License to Boast: Starship Troopers

The venerable Interwebs domain Grantland has a semi-regular series called Bragging Rights wherein they “determine which member of a cast, a team, a band, or a presidential cabinet is killing it the most, years later.” Last week, their resident college football scribe, the wonderful Holly Anderson, examined who was killing it most in Paul Verhoeven’s cult classic “Starship Troopers” (1997). And she did a respectable job. She parsed out a Gold Medal to Neil Patrick Harris, a Silver Medal to Sugar Watkins – er, Seth Gilliam, a Bronze Medal to Dean Norris. You might think, them? But then, the goal of Bragging Rights is to determine who’s killing it most right now; not who was killing it most in that movie. And that’s no fun. So NPH hosted the Oscars? So what? How did he do stacked up against Patrick Muldoon saying “jarheads”? Not too good, I’m afraid, and that’s all we care about here at Cinema Romantico.

So, today Cinema Romantico answers Grantland’s “Starship Troopers” Bragging Rights with “Starship Troopers” License to Boast, a determination of which member of the cast was killing it the most, right then.

Gold Medal: Dina Meyer. “Starship Troopers” is the certified all-time favorite movie of my friend, former roommate and venerated road comic Daryl A. Moon. I once spent a 4th of July with Daryl consuming rum like Captain Jack Sparrow while he showed myself and other (un)willing guests “Starship Troopers” one frame at a time like Roger Ebert at the Conference on World Affairs. Thus, I went straight to the nation’s foremost “Starship Troopers” source in order to properly hail the victor. I asked Daryl why Dina Meyer's Dizzy Flores was awesome. He answered…

“Sometimes a movie character is a great athlete (for example, good enough to play Jumpball professionally for either Rio or Tokyo). Sometimes a character is humble (not jealous that another player makes captain of the team despite the first character’s professional-quality abilities). Sometimes a character is determined to be with the person they love no matter what the cost (abandoning said professional career to follow the object of their affection into the military). Sometimes a character is part of a massive military invasion and, despite the overwhelming victory of the other side, manages to make it back (surviving the invasion of Big K). Sometimes a character finally admits their true feelings to the person they love and doesn’t get upset when the other person doesn’t love them back (making due when he just smiles). Sometimes a character uses their could-have-gone-pro athletic skills to save everyone in their unit (throwing a grenade into the tanker bug’s mouth during the battle on Planet P). Sometimes a character must suffer a major assault in order to stir the sympathies of the audience (the conclusion of the attack on Planet P). Sometimes a character has one of the most preposterous death scenes in film history, yet still breaks your heart by trying to comfort the person they love (in the transport back to the Rodger Young). But only one time has a character made claim to all of these, and that is why Dizzy Flores is awesome.”

Silver Medal: Michael Ironside. Mr. Ironside will always be Jester to me, so it says something that even in a cast of such soaring low-rollers, he ascends to such noteworthy heights. There’s, like, seven actors who could properly annunciate the line “They sucked his brains out.” He’s one.

Bronze Medal: Brenda Strong. Paul Verhoeven might not be a feminist but he's damn sure fair-minded, in his own way. And I think we know this because of Strong's Capt. Deladia. She's just sort of...there. It's not a big deal that she's a Captain; it just is. And in Strong's subtle but strengthened manner you can tell she's grooming Denise Richards' Carmen Ibanez to be her successor. Plus, she's the only “Starship Troopers” character to also appear in the much lamented sequel “Starship Troopers 2: Hero Federation.” Well, not really. Really Capt. Deladia died and Strong is playing a different character called Sgt. Dede Rake. But I don't believe that for a minute. Sgt. Dede Rake is Capt. Deladia reincarnated through some sort of mystical Jainism-like Ed Neumeier-ism. And we all know it.

Val Barker Trophy: Christopher Curry. This is a trophy presented to the one Olympic boxer who during the course of the two week competition most exemplifies “style.” And so, we present the “Starship Troopers” version of the Val Barker Trophy to the one actor who most exemplifies style. And that actor, undoubtedly, is Christopher Curry as Johnny Rico’s dad, the guy who says this: “How ‘bout a trip to the Outer Rings? Zegema Beach…eh?” I know. It reads like nothing here. But that’s the thing, the line reading is straight style. It is an auditory explosion of panache.

Honorary Kylie Minogue in “Moulin Rouge” Award: Hope Sandoval. It warms my heart to think that way out there in the 23rd century moments of such sweet sorrow are still being scored to the dreamy serenade “Fade Into You” and the ravenously forlorn vocals of Ms. Sandoval. She's never seen, yet that irresistible voice still echoes through the centuries. Even if there's giant bugs trying to squash us, so long as Mazzy Star lives on, we'll be all right.


Derek Armstrong said...

I wonder why Starship Troopers is on the (sucked out) brain right now, as this is the second film forum in which I have discussed the movie today.

So wait, Seth Gilliam is ahead of Dean Norris? Have we already forgotten a little show called Breaking Bad? (Alright, alright, Gilliam is in Walking Dead and his kudos from The Wire have not yet run dry.)

Most of the time Starship Troopers comes up, I just want to chime in to say I love it. So, consider that mission accomplished again.

Alex Withrow said...

Love this post, love this movie. Ironside rocks the shit in this flick, and lest we forget Dina Meyer, who kicks serious ass. Tough call, but I think Ironside would get the gold for me. "If you don't do your job, I'll kill you myself. Welcome to the Roughnecks!"