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Starship Troopers (1997)
Totalitarianism is very good looking.
Having read lots of comments already made there doesn't seem much to add though I seem to unique in loving both the book and the Film. I clearly believe this is meant as a satire and am as amazed as many other posters that some people simply didn't notice that the humans were the bad guys.
Heinlen's original novel postulated a fulfilled society with low crime, high employment, and global harmony. The price was fascist government, capital and corporal punishment for offenders and you don't get to vote. UNLESS you indenture with the government for two years to suffer and maybe die in the process. I think many people round the world in hellholes like Somalia, North Korea, Iraq etc would go for it given the choice.
The famous "Shower Scene" is mainly remembered for Men and Women being naked together- shock horror!! But what is shocking is the characters revealing that without military service you can't i) vote ii) join the media iii) breed!! Now that sounds like a good way to control the population as only ex-military types get to have children/choose the government/publish their thoughts.
Things I loved - bug stamping propaganda- some of the music - Cheesy smiles to the camera after blowing up BIG insects-"Make it 20 minutes" Not so good- some of the acting- some departures from the Novel e.g. the accountability of top officers. If you cock up the operation and get 100,000s of soldiers killed you don't get to retire quietly.
Final point I don't think this satire is squarely aimed at the U.S. but mankind's attraction to State power/militarism. It just so happens that right now the US is the only Superpower in the world and just happens the most powerful and expensively equipped armed forces in history so the glove just appears to fit most comfortably there.
It is possible to love both book and film.
Having read many of the comments people have of the film both here and on theonering.net it seems that a sizable minority of people have problems with Peter Jackson's (PJ) version of the story, and in particular how it changes some of the plot details and character motivations from Tolkien's novel. All of these negative comments seem very sincere particularly the anguish over changes to beloved characters like Faramir, Aragorn and Theoden. I have loved the book since I was twelve years old and have re-read it many times, I followed up by reading the other "canonical" Tolkien works of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. The Silmarillion in my opinion is Tolkien's masterpiece and is the most beautiful work of literature I have ever read and affects me very deeply. As such I think I can count myself as a Tolkien devotee and have spent many hours discussing points of the story with others. From other posts you would assume that I loathe and detest these films for their "heretical and unnecessary" changes to the story.
Every change PJ has made has been done for a very good reason, taking two of the most contentious changes as an example:- The elves at Helm's deep and the Arwen/Aragorn scenes (inc. her substitution for Glorfindel in film 1). PJ chose to highlight the second relationship as in the main text of the book Arwen was an incredibly peripheral character and her love and motivating force on Aragorn's quest for his Kingdom was relegated to an appendix. I loved the way PJ managed to bring this into the main story and the depiction of Arwen's ultimate fate (as described by her father) was very moving, this depicted one of Tolkien's main themes that all struggle and triumph is tinged with sadness but is never in vain.
The Elves at Helm's Deep was another massive change to the book but again was done for the soundest of reasons, in the book (and again we only find out for certain in the appendices) we know that the Elves of Mirkwood and Lothlorien along with the Dwarves of Erebor fought their own battles with Sauron's armies and thus tied up a good proportion of Sauron's power and indirectly saved Gondor. How exactly was PJ supposed to show this in FotR, TTT or the third film? He was already juggling three plot strands with the broken fellowship and to cut back to Lothlorien or the Lonely Mountain would further confuse the audience not all of whom had read the book. His solution to show the solidarity of the different races was for Haldir to turn up at Helm's Deep and die heroically defending the womenfolk and children of an alien race. Again this was the spirit if not the story of Tolkien.
I was amongst the most petrified of fans to hear that Lord of the Rings was going to get "the full hollywood treatment" Peter Jackson deserves all of the plaudits being thrown his way by tackling one of the great unfilmable literary works and doing so with awesome visual style and perhaps one of the best sets of casting ever for an epic film.
I cannot wait for the EE, (I found the FotR EE better than the theatrical release) and the days cannot go fast enough until RotK is released.
For those really puritanical fans of the book I would suggest getting hold of whatever spoilers you can as it makes the films more enjoyable as you are not looking for what is not there but rather at the awesome spectacle in front of you.
Das Boot (1981)
Close to perfect.
A fresh perspective of WWII, from the viewpoint of among the most demonized forces. The performances are superb and Peterson frames the performances magnificently it was no surprise that Hollywood snapped him up soon afterwards, he is yet to top this effort and now looks unlikely to do so. Jurgen Prochnow in particular shines out in his multifaceted portrayal of the U-Boat captain.