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Starship Troopers
Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 6.39.27 PM.png
Riffed by RiffTrax
Riffers Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett
Series RiffTrax Live!
Date Released August 15, 2013 (Live) and October 4, 2013

Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier, originally from an unrelated script called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine, but eventually licensing the name Starship Troopers, from a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It is the only theatrically released film in the Starship Troopers franchise. The film had a budget estimated around $105 million and grossed over $121 million worldwide. The story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit. Rico's military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an insectoid species known as "Arachnids".

RiffTrax riffed Starship Troopers live in Nashville in August 2013 in lieu of Twilight, which was the intended movie to be riffed. The money to secure the rights to riffing Twilight was raised on Kickstarter. Although it was an amicable interaction, Summit Entertainment declined to grant the rights to the riff the movie live. They released the studio riff on October 4, 2013.

Synopsis and Preview

[Spoilers Begin]


RiffTrax Live Starship Troopers theatrical trailer

In the future, Earth has become a spacefaring Federation. While colonizing new planets, humans have encountered an insectoid species known as the Arachnids or "Bugs", with their home being the distant world Klendathu. The bugs appear to be little more than killing machines, though there are suggestions that they were provoked by the intrusion of humans into their habitats.

In the Federation, citizenship is a privilege earned by serving through such activities as military service; citizens are granted opportunities prohibited to others. John "Johnny" Rico, his girlfriend Carmen Ibanez, and best friend Carl Jenkins attend high school in Buenos Aires. Fellow student Dizzy Flores is in love with Rico, but he does not reciprocate. They enlist in Federation service after graduation. Carmen becomes a spaceship pilot while psychically gifted Carl joins Military Intelligence. Rico enlists in the Mobile Infantry expecting to be with Carmen, but is surprised to find Dizzy, who wanted to be near him.

At Mobile Infantry training, brutal Career Sergeant Zim leads the recruits. Rico is promoted to squad leader and befriends Ace Levy. He later receives a Dear John letter from Carmen, as she desires a career with the fleet and serves under Rico's high school sports rival, Zander Barcalow. After a live-fire training incident that kills one of Rico's squad, he is demoted and flogged. Rico resigns and calls his parents, but the call is cut off when an asteroid, launched by the Arachnids, obliterates Buenos Aires, killing his family and millions more. Rico rescinds his resignation and remains with the Infantry as an invasion force is deployed to Klendathu.

The first strike on Klendathu is a disaster, with heavy casualties. Rico is wounded and mistakenly classified KIA, causing Carmen to believe he is dead. Rico, Ace and Dizzy are reassigned to the 'Roughnecks', commanded by Lieutenant Jean Rasczak, Rico's former high school teacher. The Roughnecks respond to a distress call from Planet "P", where they discover an outpost that has been devastated by Bugs. The distress call ends up being a trap and the Arachnids swarm the outpost. Rico euthanizes a mortally wounded Rasczak and Dizzy dies in Rico's arms as they are rescued by Carmen and Zander. Rico and Carmen reconnect and encounter Carl, now a high-ranking intelligence officer, at Dizzy's funeral. Carl reveals that there is reason to believe an intelligent "brain bug" is directing the other Bugs and can learn about the humans. He field-promotes Rico to Lieutenant and gives him command of the Roughnecks, ordering the infantry to capture the brain bug.

As Rico's Roughnecks join the mission, the Fleet encounters fire from the Bugs and Carmen's ship is destroyed. The escape pod carrying Carmen and Zander crashes into the Bug tunnel system near Rico. Unknowingly guided by a psychic suggestion from Carl, Rico takes soldiers Ace and Sugar Watkins into the tunnels to rescue both. They find Carmen and Zander surrounded by several types of Arachnids including the brain bug, which places its proboscis into Zander's skull and drains its contents. Before it can take Carmen's brain she cuts off the proboscis with a knife. Rico threatens the Bugs with a small nuclear bomb, so the brain bug allows them to leave. Arachnids pursue them and Watkins is mortally wounded, sacrificing himself by detonating the nuke to kill them while the others escape. After returning to the surface, they find that former Sergeant Zim, who had demoted himself to private so that he could serve, has captured the brain bug. Carl congratulates Rico and tells him and Carmen that the humans will soon be victorious, now that Intelligence can study the brain bug, which is found to be afraid. A propaganda clip is shown starring Carmen, Ace and Rico as model servicemen, encouraging the viewer to enlist.

[Spoilers End]

Cast and Crew

  • Casper Van Dien as John "Johnny" Rico
  • Dina Meyer as Dizzy Flores
  • Denise Richards as Carmen Ibanez
  • Jake Busey as Ace Levy
  • Neil Patrick Harris as Carl Jenkins
  • Patrick Muldoon as Zander Barcalow
  • Clancy Brown as Zim
  • Michael Ironside as Jean Rasczak
  • Seth Gilliam as Sugar Watkins
  • Bruce Gray as Sky Marshal Dienes
  • Marshall Bell as Gen. Owen
  • Eric Bruskotter as Pvt. Breckinridge
  • Brenda Strong as Capt. Deladier
  • Dean Norris as Commanding officer
  • Rue McClanahan as Biology teacher



  • Van Dien reprised the Johnny Rico role in a 2005 PC game of the same name, a 2008 direct-to-video third installment and a well-received CGI animated film called ST: Invasion.
  • Roger Ebert picked this movie in "The Worst Films of 1997" special on At the Movies.

See Also

External Links