|Casper Van Dien||Johnny Rico|
|Dina Meyer||Dizzy Flores|
|Denise Richards||Carmen Ibanez|
|Jake Busey||Ace Levy|
|Neil Patrick Harris||Carl Jenkins|
|Clancy Brown||Sgt. Zim|
|Seth Gilliam||Sugar Watkins|
|Patrick Muldoon||Zander Barcalow|
|Michael Ironside||Jean Rasczak|
The 59-year-old Dutch filmmaker isn't interested in the type of bloodlessly poetic lightsaber confrontations Lucas created for the "Star Wars'' trilogy. Verhoeven's battles- spotlighting bodies being ripped to pieces, stabbed like pin cushions and sucked of all life - in "Starship Troopers'' seem closer to something envisioned by Freddy Krueger than Luke Skywalker
In the battle-ready universe of "Starship Troopers,'' the soldiers - all square-jawed, hard-bodied, universally attractive recruits of both sexes - boast the gung-ho attitudes of the "Top Gun'' pilots, suffer through the tough training exercises of "G.I. Jane,'' carry the high-powered weapons of The Terminator, wear the uniforms of the Terminix Man and possess then bloodthirsty attack modes of Conan the Barbarian. They're combat-ready soldiers, which serves them well considering their out-of-this-world enemies.
During the R-rated film, the troops must use extreme measures as they battle giant extraterrestrial "arachnids'' (referred to by the generic term "bugs'') that are somehow linked to smart creatures (dubbed "Brain Bugs'') that plan to take over Earth. That challenge requires the fittest and finest military members to fly to a distant planet, lock and load their weapons and then try to exterminate the bugs, which are dominated by tank-sized "warrior'' beings that possess the mobility of spiders, the sting of scorpions and the hard shells of cockroaches.
For "Starship Troopers,'' based on Robert Heinlein's science fiction novel, Verhoeven uses Hollywood's old World War II-film formula by following some young people from school graduations, through military training exercises and then to the battlefield skirmishes. The story's basic triangle forms between athlete Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien of "Beverly Hills 90210''), his math-whiz girlfriend Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards, "Melrose Place") and their smart friend, Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser, M.D.''), who join the military and become an infantry soldier, a pilot and an intelligence officer, respectively.
The talented Verhoeven initially paints "Starship Troopers'' in extremely broad strokes, employing purposely stilted dialogue and making it almost seem like a glossy cable movie featuring interchangeable young performers who seem more forgettable than the counter clerks in a Burger King commercial. That comic book-level opening, however, disappears as Verhoeven develops the colorful tale by inserting some darkly humorous touches (a la his hit ""RoboCop''), pushing the characters to extreme levels, inserting unexpected plot twists and offering grisly combat footage that might have Gen. George Patton spinning in his grave.
Those eye-popping action sequences work due to the stunning computer-generated images created by Phil Tippett, who developed the digital dinosaurs for "Jurassic Park,'' and his team of more than 200 special effects wizards. The "bug'' creatures are fast, furious and fabulous.
For those willing to scratch the surface, "Starship Troopers'' also contains some interesting political concepts, particularly in terms of its avid pro-military stance. Verhoeven uses Heinlein's model of presenting a future world in which one can only attain citizenship by participating in military service and putting himself or herself in the line of fire to protect freedom.
Although some may interpret such an approach as borderline fascism, it certainly provides food for thought and should generate some heated discussions. Those talks, however, will pale in comparison to the conversations about the sexual elements in "Starship Troopers.''
Thanks to pictures like "Basic Instinct'' and "Showgirls,'' Verhoeven is no stranger to controversy over the erotic elements in his work. In the universe of "Starship Troopers,'' the equality of the sexes translates into men and women sharing bathroom facilities, something the director makes crystal clear during a lengthy shower-room sequence with both sexes conversing as they stand nude, soap up and rinse off.
With "Starship Troopers'' toys now flooding stores, parents should be aware that the film is often graphically violent, with Verhoeven having to delete three seconds of footage to obtain an R rating instead of an NC-17. With the bloody violence, abundant nudity and a brief sex scene, some adults will want to keep their children far away, even though the picture is being sold as an old-fashioned combat movie with state-of-the-art visuals.
Other viewers, however, should be cheering during the close-quarters fighting and battlefield heroics as Earth forces become "bug busters" and squash these creepy crawlers from a galaxy far, far away.
|Date of Birth||15 June, 1969|
|Siblings||2 (Evan Meyer and Unknown)|
|Education||Bachelor's in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, and a minor in French|
|Lives in||Dina moved to Los Angeles when she was cast as Lucinda in Beverly Hills
90210. She was born in
Queens, New York (Forest Hills).
|Favorite movies||The Shining, The Omen, The Exorcist, Clockwork
Orange, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and Fame
|Favorite music||Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Everclear,
Sublime, 70's Disco, and Motown. (Hates Rap!)
|Studied acting:||Three years of Meisner technique with a guy named Ron Stetson.|
BABE IN SPACE
For her latest movie, Dina Meyer was determined not to play the babe, but that's a bit like Eddie Murphy trying not to play the black guy. Paul Byrne loses his heart to a Starship Trooper. In Starship Troopers, Dina Meyer had to do a lot of difficult things. She had to travel to a faraway planet and fight giant bugs for a start. She also had to do so carrying a gun the weight of your average 10-year old, and wearing a suit that the Marquis De Sade would even find a little bit too restraining. But all of this paled beside Dina Meyer's one big problem with Starship Troopers - having to take her kit off with her fellow actors for a shower scene.
"I don't know, maybe because you're European it's a little bit easier for you," she smiles, "but for us Americans, it's kinda difficult to disrobe in front of mixed company."
I could be wrong, but I don't think being European makes exposing your privates to a room full of strangers any easier.
"There were 20 other people in the scene, plus a crew of about only five or six. You've been working with these people for about four months, so you've developed certain relationships with them, and now all of a sudden, you've being asked to take off your clothes and just hang out naked with them."
For most sane people, a veritable nightmare, but for one or two less bothered by social etiquette, a dawdle. Step forward the director of Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven, the man also responsible for Robocop, Total Recall and last year's megaflop, Showgirls.
"So Paul says, 'come on, what's the big deal? It's just your body - you've seen it before. You Americans, you're so ridiculous sometimes!' "So I said, okay, big shot, why don't you take off your clothes? So he did. And then he got his cameraman to do the same. After that, we all felt pretty silly, so we went ahead and stripped off. It felt pretty uncomfortable for about 10 minutes, but then we just forgot about what we weren't wearing and just shot the scene."
Having started out on the dreaded Beverly Hills 90210, Dina Meyer has been working her way steadily up the Hollywood ladder over the last four years. Scoring parts in the disastrous Johnny Mnemonic (opposite Keanu Reeves) and the notably better Dragonheart, the considerably babe-like Meyer has always set out to play the anti-babe roles. And that's why she turned down the original part offered to her in Starship Troopers in favour of a rougher, tougher role.
"I originally read for the part of Carmen, the squeaky clean babe in the movie - you know, great body, beautiful face, the whole shebang - but I just found myself drawn to the role of Dizzy, because she was someone who was willing to get her hands dirty, to speak her own mind, and to be one of the boys to get what she wanted. So Paul gave me the part of Dizzy instead."
A sci-fi adventure of a particularly B-movie bent, Starship Troopers concerns a bunch of outrageously pretty high school graduates who all end up joining the Federal Services just in time to go to war against a hostile planet of giant bugs. It is, of course, enormously silly, but it also happens to be enormously violent.
"When you're making the movie, you really have no idea what the end result is going to be," states Meyer. "On my first day on the set, I saw all this carnage, all these amputated bodies lying around the set, and you just walk on by and get your scene done. But when I saw the actual movie on the big screen, I was overwhelmed - it just blew me away. "But my feeling about Starship Troopers is that it's a deliberately cartoonish movie. It's a video game with a very big budget, and I don't think it really would have much of an effect on your average teenager."
Dina's effect on the average teenager is probably one of Starship Troopers' strongest assets, but, citing her influences as Glenn Close, Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange, she's determined to keep her looks secondary to her talents.
"I'm not saying I'm out to play ugly girls," she finishes, "it's just that if the part is attractive, I want her to have something else. Don't let her just be the shining light - I want to be able to scare the pants off a man just as easily as charm them off him (laughs)."
That was enough for Van Dien and he soon decided that medicine would be where his life would head. He attended Florida State and entered a pre-med program. While there, he also took some Theater classes for easy elective credits. Soon though, his interest in the Theater Arts would eclipse both his interest in the military and in medicine. As Van Dien puts it, "I went to college to study medicine. I asked myself: 'In 10 years, will I regret it if I don't try to be an actor?' And then I asked, 'will I regret it if I become an actor and not a doctor?', and I said...'nah'."
He dropped out of Florida State and moved to Los Angeles where he soon landed some beginner roles on the soap opera One Life To Live and then on Beverly Hills 90210. He cashed in on his good looks but he had yet to show any formal acting chops. Still, the television roles gave him the needed exposure to make it onto the big screen.
He began with a string of bit parts in straight-to-video releases: Night Eyes 4, Beastmaster 3 and, ironically, Casper: A Spirited Beginning. Next came James Dean: Race With Destiny, and the beginning of better things. He starred as an American icon in the film's title role. The film, which also starred his then-wife Carrie Mitchum (mother to his two children, Casper Robert Van Dien and Gracie Van Dien) and his father-in-law, Robert Mitchum, was moderately successful. Next came his most successful and memorable role to date, Johnny Rico in Paul Verhoeven's futuristic action film, Starship Troopers.
As the golden boy leader of Earth's defense against the invading giant bugs, Van Dien had an incredibly strong screen presence. His fame was beginning to build. Van Dien would next play another American icon, Tarzan. Neither Starship Troopers nor Tarzan did very well at the box office, but they did allow America to put a name to the handsome young actor.
Casper Van Dien is rapidly gaining a large fan base,
largely due to his chiseled physique. He is yet to be
taken completely seriously, but that may change
with an upcoming string of movies. He will star in
Sleepy Hollow, Romantic Moritz, Meltdown and