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Verhoeven knows

that Americans have

an irony deficiency:

they don't get his

joke of having Yankee youth cheering

what are essentially modern,

warmongering

brown shirts.

Movies, mountains of food and loads of moaning, that's what Thanksgiving in America is all about. For this big holiday moviemakers put out some of their best stuff, hoping to lure the turkey-weary Americans into darkened multiplexes for a real mixed bag of filmed entertainment.

Starship Troopers, for instance, is a sci-fi extravaganza pitting Aryan- type youths against scissor-armed, brain-sucking bugs in outer space. It has gone to number one so far with only a handful of people really catching Dutch director Paul Verhoeven's ironic gesture: all the troopers are so Hitler-youth they may as well be singing Tomorrow Belongs To Me. Verhoeven has freely admitted to plagiarising its opening sequence from Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda classic Triumph of the Will. Here, politically-correct Nazi youth (if there can be such a thing) fight and die horrible deaths for the good of our universe.

Of course, this kind of fascistic fashion statement is not new. From the uniformed robotic police in THX 1138 to Star Wars stormtroopers, groovy Nazi-like uniforms showed the seductive side of evil. In Starship Troopers we don't find them offensive. We are encouraged to cheer and even identify with those wearing Nazi trappings. It is almost as if Verhoeven wants to court more controversy by offending the older generation who remember the Second World War. (I myself waited for some over-stuffed midwesterner to stand up and cry, "Hey! Them're Nazis up there!" It didn't happen.)

Well, no. Verhoven has been quoted as saying that he just wanted to play with these controversial images in an artistic way. Again, his Dutch humour shows through. Few could accuse the post-Spetters Verhoeven of being an artist, especially with those two monuments to good taste Basic Instinct and Showgirls under his belt.

that Americans have an irony deficiency: they don't get his joke of having yankee youth cheering what are essentially modern, warmongering brownshirts. Still, you can say what you like about Nazis, but you have to admit that they had the best uniforms.

Thankfully, the nasty bug-enemy are tough but just easy enough to destroy. We gaze at their violent, anthropomorphic behaviour and sigh, "Never mind the story, look at those effects!" Starship Troopers is a big nothing of a movie but fabulous to look at. The plot? Not only has Verhoeven lost it, he never needed it in the first place. It's Dollars Uber Alles, baby.

Starship Troopers comes out on 2 January.

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