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Paul Verhoeven Braces Fans For Donald Trump’s Starship Troopers

Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven built his Hollywood reputation by injecting subversive ideas into mainstream material. Several of his most enduring movies have inspired sequels (RoboCop, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers) and/or remakes (RoboCop, Total Recall), but these films have consistently failed because they discard the most striking quality in Verhoeven’s work: satire. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Starship Troopers remake from Sony and producer Neal H. Moritz (the Fast & Furious movies) is being described as a more direct adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s hugely problematic novel, one lacking the blistering critique of fascism so essential to the film Verhoeven made with screenwriter Edward Neumeier (RoboCop).

Following a screening of Starship Troopers at Film Society of Lincoln Center earlier this week, Verhoeven offered his perspective on the remake and the ways it differs from his 1997 film. “We really, really tried to get away from the novel because we felt that the novel was fascistic and militaristic,” he explained. “You feel that going back to the novel would fit very much in a Trump presidency.”

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Though Starship Troopers was widely misunderstood at the time of its release, Verhoeven and Neumeier were actively critiquing—not celebrating—the source material. “Our philosophy was really different,” he said. “We wanted to do a double story, a really wonderful adventure story about these young boys and girls fighting, but we also wanted to show that these people are really, in their heart, without knowing it, on their way to fascism.”

For a quick reminder of Verhoeven’s disturbing vision, check out the trailer for the original Starship Troopers below—and be sure to approach the remake with fitting skepticism.

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