Sparred by the triumphant onscreen return of a certain Johnny Rico, we turn
our DVD-minded focus to a few stars of yesterday popping up in new DVD releases
this week: Casper van Dien, Christopher Lambert, and Heather Graham. Also, check
out this week’s geek-tastic new releases: a Starship Troopers box set, Code
Monkeys, and Captain James Tiberius Kirk’s restored adventures aboard the
Casper Van Dien is back in Starship Troopers: Marauder
If you know the name Johnny Rico, then you know Casper van Dien. Back in 1997,
Van Dien turned in a career-defining performance as the brash “roughneck”
recruit Rico in
Starship Troopers; since that breakout role, he
appeared in no less than 28 (mostly made-for-TV or direct-to DVD) films. This
week Van Dien returns, eleven years later, to the franchise that kicked off his
career. (Read Casper van Dien’s Five Favorite Films here and hear what Rico’s up
against in Starship Troopers 3.)
Exclusive: Watch two exclusive behind-the-scenes featurettes about the new weaponry and the Marauder powersuit from Starship Troopers 3!
Unnecessary DVD re-release of the week: Christopher Lambert’s
In the world of home video, it seems everything old can become new again when
re-masterings, retrospective commentaries, or new footage come into play. But
what if no new changes are made whatsoever? Don’t check out Lionsgate’s new
re-release of Stuart Gordon‘s
Fortress, the horror veteran’s schlocky-but-entertaining
sci-fi flick from 1993 starring direct-to-video king
Christopher Lambert. In it,
Lambert stars as an Army officer imprisoned when he and his wife decide to
conceive more than the allotted one child per couple; highlights include what
happens when unruly prisoners get “intestined.” But anyone looking for further
insights from Gordon or even Lambert will be duly disappointed; the new release,
out this week, is merely a repackaged version of Artisan’s 2001 release. As for
Lambert, he’s since returned to his bread-and-butter — direct-to-video and
foreign language films – though we are excited at the thought of him
resurrecting Lord Rayden for a 2010 Mortal Kombat sequel.
The Where-Has-Heather-Graham-Gone Update of the Week
Speaking of celebrities who’ve fallen off the face of Planet Hollywood, this
week we stumble across
Heather Graham. Once an in-demand Hollywood Roller Girl,
Graham has taken to appearing in tiny indie and DVD flicks in the past few
years: a travel writer in the romantic-comedy
Cake; a hot lesbian in the
romantic comedy Gray Matters; a hot lesbian in the dark drama
see a trend here?) This week Graham’s back with another quirky indie:
Conception, the comic tale of one woman’s quest to conceive a child at any costs
before her “baby making days” are over.
Click for this week’s new releases!
Abigail Breslin continues to steal the title of America’s Sweetheart from Dakota
Fanning with her starring role as Nim Rusoe, the precocious, self-sufficient
daughter of a scientist (Gerard Butler) who has lived her whole life on – you
guessed it! – an island. Critics were mixed on the fantasy-adventure, but gave
kudos to the flick (and to producer/co-star
Jodie Foster as a neurotic writer)
for offering wholesome, well-intentioned counterprogramming for the Bratz crowd.
Amusing animated CGI sequences could look great on Blu-ray; deleted scenes,
featurettes, and commentaries by both husband and wife directors Mark Levin and
Jennifer Flackett and stars Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin flesh out the
Still upset about the video game crash of 1983? Is your old Atari 2600 gathering
dust in the attic while the young folk rock out to Guitar Hero? Cheer up by
watching Code Monkeys, G4’s original animated series chronicling the employees
of the fictitious GameaVision video game company during the 1980s. Code Monkeys
combines South Park-style humor with 8-bit animation and features cameos by tech
celebrities like Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, God of War developer
David Jaffe, and Steve Wozniak as the “CEO” of GameaVision who leaves to start a
little company called Apple.
Shout Factory’s 2-disc release includes Behind the Scenes of Code Monkeys, Daily
Pranks, gaming tips from G4’s Kristin Holt, original GameaVision games, and
Austria nabbed its first Academy Award when The Counterfeiters won Best Foreign
Film last February; this week, the World War II tale comes to DVD. Based on the
real-life memoirs of Adolph Burger, the critically-acclaimed drama follows the
harrowing experiences of Holocaust victims forced to work for Nazis in exchange
for their lives.
Delve deeper into the film and the events that inspired it with commentaries and
interviews with director Stefan Ruzowitzky, star Karl Markovics, and Holocaust
survivor/memoirist Burger himself.
Breaking news: we’ve got a film this week about a giant killer crocodile, and
it’s got a fresh Tomatometer!! Suspend your disbelief long enough to rent this
creature feature, starring
Radha Mitchell and
Michael Vartan, about a tour group
terrorized in the outback by Australia’s native predator. (Where’s Paul Hogan
when you need him?)
Check out commentary by writer/director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), a making-of
documentary shot by the director himself, and a few additional features.
How should you prepare for the debut of Starship Troopers: Marauder, writer Ed Neumeier’s directorial debut and the long-awaited return of Johnny Rico? By
picking up the entire trilogy on Blu-ray, available in a three-film box set or
individually this week! Watch Marauder in Blu-ray’s Picture-in-Picture mode to
watch pop-up trivia about new characters, weapons and story. Even the first
Starship Trooper film has been plumped with new Blu-ray features including
pop-up retrospective comments and a Starship Troopers trivia test.
Tons of Marauder-focused extras accompany the release, including commentary with
Ed Neumeier, Casper Van Dien, and Jolene Blalock, features on the newly
introduced Bugs and weapons, and a music video for the satirical government
anthem, “It’s a Good Day to Die.”
Hardcore Trekkers may already own Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD or VHS,
but this week’s debut has something none of the previous home video releases
did: remastered versions of the complete second season! Originally re-broadcast
in 2006, the updated Original Series featured additional CGI effects, recomposed
scenes, and updated image and sound. Season Two also features such memorable
episodes as “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
No new materials can be found on this 8-disc release, though the set is packed
with enough previously released featurettes, documentaries, and commentaries to
keep you engaged in Star Trek lore. However, this is only a standard release,
with no news yet of Blu-ray plans; still, for diehard fans the set will be worth
its weight in quatloo.
It’s been eleven years since we last saw Casper Van Dien as Federation soldier Johnny Rico in Paul Verhoeven‘s sci-fi cult film, Starship Troopers. Two sequels later, Van Dien is back with a new crew, new weapons, new dangers, and the same familiar problems with authority figures and alien bugs. Van Dien spoke with Rotten Tomatoes to share his Five Favorite (Sci-Fi) Films of all time, discuss his longtime friendship with Starship Troopers: Marauder director Ed Neumeier, and reveal how the last decade and two sequels have changed Johnny Rico and the Starship Troopers franchise.
Starship Troopers: Marauder premieres on DVD Tuesday, August 5; click here to preview two exclusive behind-the-scenes clips for peeks of the new Marauder suit and weapons. Read on for Casper Van Dien’s 5 Favorite (Sci-Fi) Films of all time!
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, 92% Tomatometer)
First we have Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That would be because of “Khaaaaaaaaaan!” “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!” That’s number five.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, 100% Tomatometer)
Then I would have to go probably with T2. It was another great sequel to a great movie. I loved the humanity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I loved the humanity in the cyborg, in the Terminator. I loved the fact that he was not human and he had more humanity than most humans do. And he was just cool.
Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope (1977, 95% Tomatometer)
Then I would go with the first Star Wars, which is actually the fourth episode, because I remember standing in line; I was one of those bazillion kids that were standing in line opening day. My poor mother and father had to do that with me. I remember my mom left, and came back a day later. So my dad stood there with me. I think that is one of the most incredible memories for me. It was an awesome film; I’ll never take anything away from the film, but the fact that I had a father who was willing to stand in line with me all that while…let’s see, I was born in ’68, so I was 8 or 9. Eight or 9 and my dad stood in line for me. Yeah, I was there for like a day and a half!
The Matrix (1999, 86% Tomatometer)
And then I would put The Matrix. The first Matrix. Are there any others? [Because of] Neo. And it was just so cool. Everything in that movie made you see how we’re all interconnected; I think that the internet is like a man-made version of, the closest we can come to conceptualizing God. It shows how we’re all connected, and this Matrix is really that more defined. The Wachowskis were just a couple filmmakers who did an incredible job.
Aliens (1986, 100% Tomatometer)
And my all-time favorite number one science fiction movie would be…Starship Troopers! Because I’m vain! And full of myself! No, actually I’m excluding me from this, but I would put that on the list. But I can’t do myself, because it just isn’t right. I would say Aliens. Because, as Jim Cameron himself said, “Why are they making Starship Troopers? I already did!” He was wrong, by the way!
Bonus Answer: RoboCop (1987, 85% Tomatometer)
Actually, I have to add one more in. I have to add RoboCop only because of the one line at the very end, when they go, “What’s your name?” And he says, “Murphy.” It’s the greatest way to end any movie, ever. It’s true, if you think about that. Everybody in the audience stood up and screamed. They went ballistic; I know, I was there. I’m probably revealing some geekdom here. I was there in the theater opening weekend! I remember everybody — as soon as he said his name, he got his humanity back, and it was such a powerful moment. It was awe-inspiring.
Were you close with Ed from working on the first Starship Troopers? Was he a presence on set back then?
CvD: Ed is a unique writer — Paul Verhoeven is a unique director, but he demanded that Ed be on the set [of Starship Troopers] every day. So for RoboCop and for Starship Troopers he was on the set every single frickin day. He was there from the beginning to the end. It was fun for me, because he and I became friends. But Ed and I became friends actually when he saw me when I first walked into the audition for Starship Troopers. I was sitting out there with all the other guys that were auditioning for the role, and Ed poked his head out of the office; he was not only one of the writers, but he was one of the producers at that time. He poked his head out of the office, looked at me, pointed at me, and fingered me to come over to him. So I went over to him and in front of the other kids, I was like “Ha ha hah…” I walk into his office and he had a rifle there and I picked it up, and I did some drills with it from military school and we got to talking, and he said he knew when he poked his head out of the office that I was Johnny Rico. And Paul Verhoeven said that when I came into read he knew that I was Johnny Rico. So it was always a thrill to have these men believe in me. Ed really wanted me in the second one, but the director didn’t want any characters from the first film in it. Ed said if he got to do one of his own, that he would demand that I be in it, and I guess he got his way.
CvD: The director [Phil Tippett] really wanted to go a different way, from what I gather. I don’t know everything for a fact — you’ll have to ask him personally — but he also, from what I hear, wanted the humor out of Starship Troopers. It might have been the studio at the time that wanted the humor out, but they really asked Ed to put it back in for this one. So Ed was like, well, that’s the way I like to write, and that’s what he did.
This film was always meant to be a DVD release. But it’s getting a theatrical in Japan because they did such a phenomenal job with it that Japan said, we want this for a theatrical [release]. But it was always meant to be a DVD.
Well, there’s definitely a collective love for the first Starship Troopers, and Marauder seems to fall much closer to the spirit of the original.
CvD: Definitely. You are one hundred percent correct. Robert Heinlein created Starship Troopers, but Ed created the Starship Troopers movie world. He put in his political satire in the first film, he’s got it in this film and then some, and he’s also got this new religious twist, which some may or may not get. I think it’s hysterical, though. He’s a phenomenal writer. Different people will embrace it in different ways. And other people will hate it in other ways, but it’s always fantastic to have that kind of variation in appeal, or lack thereof.
Next: Ed Neumeier vs. Paul Verhoeven, Johnny Rico vs. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and more
CvD: That’s a very good question. Ed Neumeier — this is a natural segue for him, to go from writer-creator to director, and this is an easier venue for him to do that as his debut. Because he is already known, and this is an established franchise that he’s affiliated with and have a lot more appreciation for and from. The advantage for him is as a director, he hired a great team around him. He did a superb job and the people really embraced it and loved him and went for it. But he also had the most incredible training and advantage over most debut directors, because he was on the set every day of RoboCop, and on the set every day of Starship Troopers, under one of the greatest directors of all time: Paul Verhoeven. So he had that instruction. Paul — even if you watch Black Book today…what a great film that is. Paul continues to grow as a director and his passion is unsurpassed by anybody. Ed was able to witness this and get these lessons and instructions. And also he’s a fan of films. Ed’s a huge fan of John Ford films, and you can talk to him about just about any film. Differences between them? Paul’s a bit more of a screamer, and he has more of an accent. [Laughs]
Paul had a bigger budget, but what Ed had for this was phenomenal. Robert Skotak was the Academy Award-winning special effects guy for Aliens and T2, and he wanted to be on the first Starship Troopers because he was a big fan of the book, and he got to do this one and he did something like 420 more special effects than he was scheduled to do because he loved it so much. The bug that Ed wrote about, he created. The old bugs, he put his little flavors into. For the budget that he had, he did the most phenomenal job. What I also appreciate is Sony, they got Klaus Badelt, who did the music for Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, who saw this and loved it and did the music for it. So they really got some remarkable people behind it. And Sony’s putting the most incredible campaign I have ever seen together for a DVD release. The Japanese website is incredible, and the posters that you see throughout the world, from Australia to America to Japan, are awesome! And I’m not just saying that because I’m on the cover…
CvD: Well, being the self-absorbed me…I remember seeing this article that rated different superheroes, and it had me beating Jesse Ventura from Predator, and it had me beating Demi Moore from G. I. Jane — it had Johnny Rico beating these guys — and it had Sylvester Stallone beating John Wayne…whatever! And Arnold Schwarzenegger beat me, but then Arnold Schwarzenegger beat Stallone. So I came in third. But right now, I could kick either of their asses, ’cause they’re old. I’m sorry! Put ’em down like the b****es they are! Just kidding, I don’t know. Arnold Schwarzenegger can still take me out, he’s the Governator; Sylvester Stallone, I just saw him in Rambo and he was huge. Huuuuge.
Yeah, but how many of them still do nude scenes like the one you have in Starship Troopers: Marauder?
CvD: [Laughs] I don’t think we’d want to see them in a nude scene right now! I hardly want to see myself in a nude scene, but I worked out really hard for that one.
So tell us how Johnny Rico has changed in the near-decade since we last saw him in Starship Troopers.
CvD: Well it’s eleven years later, and it’s eleven years later for him as well. He’s survived — one of the few in the Starship Troopers world to do so — men, women, an equal kill factor. It seems like he’s become more of a pure warrior. He might be more disillusioned with the higher ranking officers and their willingness to sacrifice good troopers, as many of us are disillusioned with the people in charge who are willing to sacrifice American soldiers who are willing to do their part, and do it well, and who have honorable intentions. I think that is what he’s become. He joined the military first for a girl, and was trying to impress her, though that of course didn’t work; we always do stupid things when we’re young to try and impress girls and it never works, but…he became a soldier, and now he’s a pure warrior, and he’s very good at what he does. Maybe not as good as everyone else because they get promoted a lot faster, but he’s good enough to survive, and that’s a definite plus in the Starship Troopers world.
For more info, photos and news, check out our Starship Troopers: Marauder page.