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Paul Verhoeven
Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris
Edward Neumeier, based on the book by Robert A. Heinlein

Prepare for Battle
Box Office:
Budget $95 million.
Opening weekend $22.058 million on 2971 screens.
Domestic gross $54.7 million.
Rated R for graphic sci-fi violence and gore, and for some language and nudity.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
2-Disc set
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English, French, Spanish

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $26.95
Release Date: 8/5/2002

• None

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Starship Troopers: Superbit (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 5, 2003)

Since this is my third review of Starship Troopers, I won’t spend much time with an evaluation of the movie itself. When I saw the flick theatrically in 1997, it came as a disappointment. That occurred partially due to my own expectations but also because of the erratic implementation of the material itself.

Almost six years – and about five more screenings – later, I still find the same concerns related to Troopers. When it works, it comes across as lively and entertaining. When it falls flat, it does so with a loud thud.

If you’re interested to hear my thoughts in more detail, please check out my look at the 2002 Special Edition release of Starship Troopers. From here, I’ll just discuss the quality of this new Superbit edition.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus F

Starship Troopers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As with prior releases, much of the picture looked fantastic, but some niggling concerns kept it from becoming reference level.

Sharpness seemed immaculate. The image consistently appeared crisp and detailed. I saw virtually no examples of softness or fuzziness during this distinct and accurate presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects also raised no issues, while I discerned no signs of edge enhancement.

Colors appeared excellent. Actually, a few scenes during Troopers displayed some of the strongest tones I’ve ever witnessed. The football game and the dance sequence early in the film offered simply astonishing hues that were intense and flawless. The rest of the movie didn’t seem quite as amazing, but it always presented clear and distinct colors. Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was clear and appropriately opaque.

The only area in which Troopers lost points related to print flaws. While these never appeared heavy, they did seem too prevalent for such a recent movie. Light grain cropped up at times, and I also noticed occasional examples of specks, grit, nicks, and spots. Without these issues, the DVD would have earned a solid “A”, but the defects forced me to lower my grade.

I gave past incarnations of Troopers “B+” marks for picture, and those releases received virtually identical comments about the image. So why did I bump up my grade for the Superbit version to an “A-“? Simply because the movie always rested on the border between “B+” and “A-“, and the Superbit edition improved matters enough to knock it into the higher realm. The image seemed marginally tighter. The same print flaws appeared – I’d be shocked to learn this wasn’t the same transfer used for the two prior releases – but they remained fairly insubstantial, and the rest of the picture appeared even more stunning. The improvements weren’t amazing, but the Superbit DVD was just a little stronger than past ones.

In addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack from prior versions of Starship Troopers, the Superbit release included a DTS 5.1 mix. When I compared the two, I noticed virtually no differences. The pair appeared quite similar, so I didn’t give the edge to one or the other.

That was fine with me, since both presented a positive experience. As one might expect from this sort of film, it offered a very active soundfield. The track featured a lively and engaging presence throughout the flick. Music showed good stereo imaging, while effects popped up from all around the spectrum. Those elements moved cleanly from channel to channel, and they blended together very well. The surrounds contributed a high level of material, especially throughout the many action sequences. The rear speakers added a lot of unique audio and helped to create a vivid and engaging experience.

Audio quality also seemed good. Although much of it was looped, dialogue appeared crisp and natural, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was bright and distinct, and the score showed solid fidelity and range. Effects were the stars of the show, of course, and they worked well. I thought gunfire came across as a little flat, but the rest of the mix seemed clear and clean, with virtually no distortion. Low-end response appeared excellent, as the movie pumped out lots of loud and tight bass. Overall, the audio of Starship Troopers offered a vibrant and exciting presentation.

So far this Superbit DVD of Starship Troopers seems slightly superior to the prior ones. The picture quality looked a little better, whereas audio appeared the same. Where the Superbit release loses points relates to its extras. The original 1998 DVD got a “B+” for supplements, and the excellent 2002 special edition earned an “A” in that department. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t rate the “Superbit Deluxe” treatment, so it includes absolutely no extras.

And that’s why I’ll continue to recommend the special edition of Starship Troopers to the majority of its fans. This Superbit release improves slightly on the video quality of prior versions, but it offers audio that seems virtually identical and it loses tons of interesting supplements. If you only care about the presentation of the movie, then the Superbit Starship Troopers is for you. If you’re interested in bonus materials, then the special edition remains the way to go.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7857 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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