The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008)


I try my best here at the DTVC to review not only older movies that one might see in the bargain bin at a video store, but also the more recent DTV films that litter the New Release section. It can sometimes be a difficult task, because I only have the two posts a week, and there are so many great old ones out there that people want up, plus I have the Hall of Fame to consider, so before I know it, these new films are pushed to the bottom of my Netflix queue. Here was one that managed to fight it's way back to the top.

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is a continuation of the series that started with the Paul Verhoeven 1997 classic. Casper Van Dien reprises his role as whoever, and in this one, he's brought up on charges by his former protege for sedition. Then he's spared the hangman's noose by this same protege when the dude needs him to save his girlfriend (played by the hot Vulcan from Enterprise) from a planet infested with bugs. With the girlfriend is the Sky Marshall, a rallying point in the war movement. His recent behavior has been rather suspect, which puts the girlfriend in even more danger. That's pretty much it: two hours of bugs, shooting, things not being what they seem, and very little substance, until Casper Van Dien steps in and saves the day.


The last 20 or 30 minutes of this film was pretty good. The problem, or course, is there's an hour and a half of boring movie to get through first, which hurts. When I hit the display button to see how far I am into a film, and it says "0:10:44", I know I'm in for it. And the frustrating thing was it didn't have to happen. I counted about 35 minutes of film that could've been cut that wouldn't have greatly affected the continuity. I can think of many great Bergman or Fellini films I've seen that were much shorter than this. I think DTV filmmakers forget their audience and get lost in what they're doing. Here's a reminder to any future DTV filmmakers who may commit the same mistake: you're not Bergman or Fellini, you're making a Direct to Video cash grab based on an established theatrical property. No one watching it cares about an intricate plot, we want explosions, gruesome deaths, and hot chicks or dudes. Cram as much into it in 88 minutes, and we'll be happy. If we want quality, we'll hit the Criterion Collection.

That's really too bad, because cut down to 88 minutes, this could've been a really fun movie-- the sequel to the original we thought part two was going to be. There were some really great themes that are relevant today with the current political climate that were worth exploring and leaving ambiguous for the viewer. The soldiers were portrayed as sympathetic, while the government was depicted as evil. This made it interesting, because we wanted to root for Casper Van Dien, but that meant we were rooting for the people in charge who were executing war protesters and manipulating the public.


I try my best while I review movies here to avoid discussing religion or politics, especially in a way that might make me come off as hopping on a soapbox or alienate potential readers. I want people to keep that in mind while I look at two issues regarding religiosity the film brought up, one intentional, and I think the other unintentional. I have the utmost respect for everyone's beliefs.

The first one was religion as inspiration versus something that can be manipulated by others to make people do what they want. The bugs take advantage of a spiritual reawakening to brainwash an influential person into working for them. This is juxtaposed with a girl who genuinely believes in God. She is a sympathetic figure whose faith is rewarded when she and the girlfriend are saved by Casper Van Dien in the face of an overwhelming bug swarm. As with everything else in the film, though, this juxtaposition is not cut and dry, and after, this same girl's faith is used by the government for propaganda purposes, and she's a willing participant as a leader in the religious movement. For a DTV cash grab, this discussion on religion was much more sophisticated and nuanced than I could've ever expected.


The second issue I think wasn't given to us on purpose, I just kind of pulled it out. In one scene, a guy who has a thing for the religious girl announces that he too has found God. We know he's only doing this to get with the girl, and a bug kills him not long after; but it raises an interesting point: would you convert in order to get a girl or a guy? This girl in the movie was pretty hot, so I'd consider it, you know. On the other hand, I feel like conversion is the wrong way-- it's like changing who you are to be like the other person. Then there's the other side of the coin: would you be enamored with someone that converted for you? In the movie she seemed to dig it, but I know when girls I find unattractive pretend to like things I do, I don't find them more attractive, it's almost more the reverse. It's still an interesting question, though.

I think the issues this movie brings up can't remove the fact that it's really long and really boring. Rent at your own peril. It's not like you and your friends can't discuss these things on your own after reading my post or reading the newspaper without losing almost two hours of your life to watching people act in front of a green screen.

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