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My two favorites Verhoeven movies, I think i'll toss a coin because I can't decide
And mine, as well. I just went with my the first thing that jumped into my head. So Starship Troopers, it was.
hrm..going to have to go with Robocop here-giving the slight edge to nostalgia, of course heh..
Robocop treads a really fine line between good and bad 80s cinema. It's like they tried to make every other line of dialogue a catch phrase--it starts to grate. But it's such a GENEROUSLY good dumb movie, I have to forgive it. Starship Troopers was a tad too retarded, I could barely get through that one for some reason, I dunno. The effects mostly sucked too.
You can never quite tell when Verhoeven does things with intent and when he does things because his brain can't process his own idiocy. Is he being smart and ironical? Is he a buffoon? Robocop tells me he's a buffoon, but it's high on my list of films to revisit. For the moment it drowns ignobly in in the deep end of my list and in its own dumbness, but it has all the ingredients to be a satisfyingly bad meal. Starship Troopers is glorious. Denise Richards is (was) glorious. Charlie Sheen knows how to fuck 'em... I mean pick 'em.
Also, my mixing and jumping of metaphors is with intent. I am nobody's buffoon.
Starship Troopers to me, is the true Verhoeven masterpiece.
Starship Troopers is admirably ambitious, and a movie I wanted to like more than I did. But for every moment of razor-sharp satire and bad-ass action, there are long, draggy stretches of a story populated with empty cipher characters played by terrible actors. I think I get idea behind the casting, but it backfires over the course of a two plus hour movie. It's all just too excessive. Robocop on the other hand is just as funny, pointed, and exciting, but it's also much tighter and less indulgent.
I think both films are intended as satire. I saw Robocop when I was 11, which was too young for that violent a film. By the time Starship Troopers came out a decade later, after years of Joel Silver movies, I was desensitized. However, ST is more cartoonish, which softens the violence. "Taking the edge off" is not what you should be doing with your satire. Robocop's intentions seem more serious, which makes the satire more biting. Robocop is the better film, but Starship Troopers is the better entertainment, the one which I'd rather watch more times. The violence in Robocop still bothers me, all these years later. Though that is good - I never want to become desensitized to movie violence to the level of a Tarantino.
Is it just me or is satire in film pretty much a dead art? At this point it seems to mean "anything blackly humorous and not meant to be taken totally at face value".
Looking at you Fight Club.
That's a good point, Uncle Fok. Satire is not the same thing as black comedy, and in any case Paul Verhoeven is not Voltaire, and Robocop is not Candide, and if one maybe thinks that it is (given the generally positive critical consensus), maybe it can at least be agreed that Verhoeven was not aiming for that. In fact, I still have the review from 1987 in my newspaper clippings from the time, and the film reviewer for the Houston Chronicle lists all the films Robocop is ripping off...
Interesting points being raised here about the satire. I have to say, I thought the media satire scenes in Robocop, despite being largely out of place with the rest of the narrative, were actually quite amusing and slightly more subtle (particularly the reference to nuclear-age South Africa and the sickly amusing war game commercial). The satire in Starship Troopers is, conversely, more central to the story, and draws clear parallels on Leni Reifenstaal's "Triumph of the Will", but I did feel like they were hammering it to death a bit too often. For me, both of these films, like much of Paul Verhoeven's work, are slight guilty pleasures; I should not enjoy them NEARLY as much as I do, but they do have an odd, schlocky sort of appeal to them. I credit Robocop for creating an iconic, badass protagonist, within whom Peter Weller manages to convey some of the tragedy of his situation despite being an otherwise boring character. Not to mention the fact that it is highly quotable; "Come out, or there will be.....TROUBLE!" I credit Starship Troopers for managing to hold my attention throughout despite my having seen numerous other identical films, and for creating some fun action set pieces, some interesting (albeit forceful) satire, and for creating an alien world which actually looks believable (yes it's just a desert, but the fact that it was filmed on location shows that it was neither a set nor a digital creation, and the fact that I have never seen the badlands of Wyoming/Dakota onscreen before means that the world looks unfamiliar enough to be alien). However, I was able to knitpick ST more often, and in order to get to the good parts I had to sit through some really boring, cliched 90s performances (Denise Richards and Casper Van Dien might have been beauty icons back then, but lord knows they certainly couldn't act), whereas Robocop was generally more consistent. I wouldn't mind watching either again, but I enjoyed Robocop more; clear winner here.
I like both these films a hole lot. They're really fun. But Robocop is way more memorable and it just kicks all kinds of ass.
*a whole lot
TOUGH choice as both are violent action flicks that also have brilliant satire... but edge goes to Robocop cause I like the characters and action there more.
RoboCop gets the win in this battle of violent, satirical Verhoeven films.
Starship is pretty good, but RoboCop is truly better.