Starship Troopers: Traitor Of Mars (Japan 2017)

Rating: **
Review Date: 11/19/17
Producer: Casper Van Dien
Director: Shinji Aramaki
Cast: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer

Ugh. If it weren't for the stunning animation, this movie would be unwatchable. It's amazing to me that Casper Van Dien has made an entire career out of the "Starship Troopers" franchise, and now that the series is animated, he's in a good position to continue playing Johnny Rico as a voice actor for as long as he wants to. In the aftermath of "Invasion" (2012), Rico was sent to Mars, which is a backwater farming colony far from the front lines. The Martian citizens want peace and independence, and are moving to break free from the Federation, but sneaky Sky Marshal Amy Snapp has other plans. When a surprise bug invasion force wipes out most of the Martian population, Snapp uses the situation as an excuse to blow up the planet as a show of force (and to increase her popularity ratings). But Rico has other plans, with a little help from creepy Carl Jenkins, Captain Carmen Ibanez, and Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer). Wait a minute... Didn't she die in the first movie? Commanding a group of misfit Martian rookies, Rico takes the fight back to the bugs and exposes a government scandal in the process.

Not surprisingly, the painfully stupid dialog is cringe-worthy and the stereotyped nerds in the Martian infantry are appallingly offensive. Seriously, who writes this crap and who is the intended audience? The mindless "kill 'em all" attitude has the mentality and maturity of a pre-teen boy, and the characters feel like they were written for a kids show on Cartoon Network. The attempts to inject humor and political satire in the story are as clumsy and childish as the Martian soldiers are. I find a certain amount of irony in the fact that as an R-rated movie, it panders to teenage thrills and a juvenile mindset. Unfortunately, the voice talent is just as annoying as the one-dimensional characters, with the exception of Casper Van Dien, who gives a rock solid performance as Rico. Even if he just spouts the same nonsense over and over, he says it with sincerity and authority. Dina Meyer does an adequate job in revisiting her role as Dizzy, but doesn't have much to say. To be fair, you spend more time wondering what the hell she's doing there in the first place, although it becomes apparent pretty quickly. Admittedly, she was the only reason I bothered watching the film in the first place, and it capitalizes on this mystery.

The animation is fantastic and the character design is excellent (even if the characters themselves are annoying). Dizzy looks a little off, but I'm not sure why. It's usually the mouth that betrays any given character, but there's something wrong with her eyes as well... Carl, Rico, and Ibanez look great, and Snapp looks like a wide-eyed anime version of Emma Watson. She's all sugar and spice on the surface, but evil courses through her veins, and vanity and arrogance lead to her downfall. Fans of the series will probably enjoy this adventure, but I found it to be dumb, pedestrian, and offensive.