Neal Moritz is best known for producing adrenaline-pumping action flicks for people with short attention spans who live on a steady diet of Jack Link’s and Red Bull, films such as the Fast and the Furious series and Battle: Los Angeles. He’s also been on a mission in recent years to remake all your favorite movies. If you go to Moritz’s IMDB page you’ll see his name attached as producer to remakes of Highlander, Escape from New York, Prom Night, Flash Gordon, Doc Savage, Battle Royale, and Total Recall. Now the veteran Hollywood producer is about to add another notch to the bat he uses to bash in the skulls of the classic films of my youth with a new version of Starship Troopers.
Robert Heinlein’s 1959 novel of Earth waging a futuristic war against hostile alien beings called “bugs” which was first made into a feature back in 1997 is getting the big screen treatment once more. According to Vulture, Sony Pictures has tapped Moritz, who has made his fair share of hits and duds for the studio, to revitalize the property with Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, the screenwriters of this summer’s superheroic hits Thor and X-Men: First Class, to team up on the new adaptation.
Starship Troopers was first adapted for the big screen in the year of Titanic under the direction of Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, a director world famous for eating outrage and crapping controversy. The movie, which was written by Robocop screenwriter Edward Neumeier, deviated from the novel in many areas and at times seemed to satirize the serious intentions of Heinlein’s original story. Since it was first published Starship Troopers has been hailed as a classic work of science fiction and was considered to be a great inspiration for the U.S. Military, but it has also been roundly criticized as having overtones of fascism and racism (both topics to be open to debate for the rest of time).
Despite featuring fantastic visual effects Verhoeven’s film was a box office disappointment, which was not surprising given that the cast was short on recognizable names, not to mention talent. The standouts were Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Michael Ironside (Scanners), and Clancy Brown (Highlander), but the stars were Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards. Of course when the most notable thing you’ve done with your career is marrying and divorcing Charlie Sheen, calling someone a star is quite the stretch, even for a Kardashian sister.
In the years following its release, Verhoeven’s film has gained a sizable cult following due to the many layers of political and social subtext the director and Neumeier buried in their limb-ripping, outerspace war flick. These include multiple visual references to Nazism and the “Would You Like to Know More” FedNet newscasts seen throughout the film that were designed to parody U.S. and German propaganda films from World War II.
The new Starship Troopers will likely look the original Heinlein more for inspiration and make it more of a straight sci-fi action epic, if the rest of Moritz’s filmography is anything to go by. It will also likely tone down the violence to a PG-13 level and feature a cast fully of talent-deprived pretty boys and girls, much like Verhoeven’s film but without the ironic justification.
The 1997 film inspired two direct-to-video sequels, the second of which starred Casper Van Dien, and a CGI-animated series than ran for 40 episodes two years after the film’s release.