A Less Violent Starship Troopers?

Reboot producer thinks so

Paul Verhoeven's '80s sci-fis tiptoed between kitsch and corrosive with such brass that people are still debating which bits are meant as satire and which bits aren't. His loose triptych of subversive sci-fis - Starship Troopers, Total Recall and RoboCo**p - are all getting a redo, with the former still in the early stages of development. In the new issue, Empire **caught up with producer Toby Jaffe to find out what's planned for the former.

"The more expensive a film is, the harder it is now to make it that violent," explains Jaffe, also one of the team behind Colin Farrell's Total Recall. "With Recall in particular, we made a conscious choice to keep it tonally closer to something like Minority Report. It gives the studio, and us as producers, the opportunity to reintroduce it in a new way."

It's news that will land with a thump in the hearts of bug-hunt purists, but hardly a surprise. It's hard to imagine Verhoeven's gleefully violent RoboCop or Troopers sneaking through the studio system these days, and, explains Jaffe, there's little point retreading old ground. "Verhoeven took [Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel] from one extreme and made it almost comical, whereas our job is to be a little more faithful to the book, and ground it a little more."

What's planned sounds like it will ditch the satire in favour of a straighter action play. "Verhoeven made his movie a critique of fascism," says Jaffe, "whereas Heinlein was writing from the perspective of someone who had served in World War II. Y'know, one man's fascism is another man's patriotism..."

One element that will improve with age is the hardware. If the militaristic elements are less tongue-in-cheek, those nukes will be bigger and better. "Working in a visual-effects renaissance as we are, we have the ability to do so much more now. We can do the Jump Suits [armoured exoskeletons from Heinlein's novel], for example, which I don't think they could have done before."

Pick up the new issue of Empire from Thursday for a fresh look at Verhoeven's trippy trilogy and more from Jaffe and co. on the new generation of films.