The new millennium pits man against an intelligent, deadly race of alien bugs: some thirty feet tall, some that fly and all capable of destroying every living thing on Earth!
There is a reason why we are paying attention to this movie which was made 12 years ago. Sure, it looks like another special effects laden movie showcasing lots of action sequences. And since this one is helmed by Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Total Recall), one would expect an adrenaline driven thrill ride showcasing gungho drama and monster alien bugs. There is a reason why the producers have decided to release this movie on Blu Ray disc, and more importantly, there is a reason why this reviewer’s General Paper tutor used it as a teaching resource some 10 years ago.
The plot is an action movie fan’s dream come true: In the distant future, countless high school students are encouraged by the state to obtain citizenship by joining the military force. Of course, as any decent movie watcher would tell you, there is a conspiracy in this. The soldiers would sign up only to be engaged in a massive war against a planet of alien bugs. And as you will have it, the safety of humanity lies in their hands.
Clearly, there are political themes in this Edward Neumeier written screenplay. Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s classic novel, viewers can analyse the deeper meanings of what it takes to be a citizen, and the power of media influence (check out the several mock TV advertisements sprinkled all over the movie). The satirical plot on today’s system is relevant, and is definitely a worthy movie to be used for discussion in the classroom. Above all this, the 129 minute movie is a non stop display of violence and gore – see bodies ripped up, blood being splattered and gigantic bugs being squished disgustingly.
Not that there is anything wrong here though, because this is a fun movie to sit through, despite the wooden acting by Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer. The attention is on the twisted setups of the humans and bugs killing each other for survival. For a 1997 movie, the special effects are commendable. It is almost flawless as seen on the crystal clear Blu Ray screen. With a somewhat substantial story, the overload of special effects becomes somewhat justifiable too (Roland Emmerich, are you listening?)
Hence, the science fiction fantasy has succeeded in balancing these two factors, making us taking another look at it. Who cares if Van Dien went on to become an unforgettable Tarzan, while Richards went on to become one of the worst Bond girls named Dr Christmas Jones? We were here for the fun, and we definitely got it.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains quite a bit of substantial extra features. However, as they are the original DVD features, do not expect Blu Ray visual quality. Featurette: Making Of is a eight minute clip which brings you behind the scenes where the director and cast look like they had hell lot of fun running from invisible insects on set. Scene Developments with Audio Commentary is nine minutes long, and you can hear the director talking about how the green screen technology works for the visual effects intensive scenes. In the four minute Screen Tests: Johnny and Carmen, we see Van Dien and Richards, err, attempting to act. But then again, the real stars of this movie are the bugs. Included are also five Deleted Scenes and a Teaser Trailer. There is also a summary of the best scenes in the section dubiously entitled Movie Showcase.
The visual transfer for the movie is perfect, and the enhanced audio boasts of English 5.1 PCM, Japanese DTS, and the usual English, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
by John Li
Posted on 27 November 2009