I can remember it like it was yesterday: a brand-new theater opened in my town with state-of-the-art THX sound, stadium seating, and enough screens to make your head spin (16!!!!). The theater was the big attraction and there was a ton of excitement leading up to opening night, not only cause the theater was brand-spanking-new, but because the film they were debuting with just happened to be a little movie called STARSHIP TROOPERS. And boy, did the theater deliver the one-two punch in making STARSHIP TROOPERS one of the coolest f*cking theatrical experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of. The movie had everything: violence, boobs, blood, gore, cheese, special effects, and Michael Ironside. Or, in other words, it was a classic Verhoeven flick. I thought about this the other day when I caught the later half of STARSHIP TROOPERS on TV and I realized Verhoeven hasn’t done an awesome sci-fi action extravaganza in a long time. This bummed me out, so I started drinking, then I started thinking about why the f*ck Verhoeven hasn’t made a cool-ass movie in a while?!
The guy’s directorial biography reads like someone’s Best of Sci-Fi list, including such classics like ROBOCOP, TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS, and HOLLOW MAN. Even his non-Sci-Fi stuff, including the thriller BASIC INSTINCT and the stinker SHOWGIRLS deserve some recognition somewhere. I mean, the guy introduced the world to Sharon Stone and made her the superstar she was back in the ‘90s… that’s pretty f*cking impressive work! And that right there summed up the last 25 years of the guy’s career, with one exception… BLACK BOOK—the German drama he did 5 years ago. And that was the guy’s last movie. The next one’s scheduled for a 2013 release (HIDDEN FORCE), but it sounds like he’s going back to his BLACK BOOK roots and not doing something as nearly as awesome as the title would suggest. Boo!
ROBOCOP changed the way people looked at comic book violence, showing people that you can have fun with tongue-and-cheek commentary and action, while also including extreme gore and carnage when someone gets shot. Before that, people in Sci-Fi flicks died like Storm Troopers did in STAR WARS, by simply falling over without the blood packets. Verhoeven said “f*ck that” and delivered one of the most entertaining and bloody-violent Sci-Fi action flicks in cinematic history, putting him on the map as the go-to guy for movies like this, and spawning an entire franchise about a gunned-down cop who patrols Detroit as a half-man/half-machine force of one. Could you have imagined then that the hard-R movie would generate two theatrical sequels, a TV show, a cartoon, and a successful videogame? No… but Verhoeven managed to do so—and did so gloriously.
So how does Verhoeven follow-up the success of ROBOCOP? How about pairing with Arnold Schwarzenegger and rockin’ a little movie called TOTAL RECALL, a film that still holds up today in the special effects department, not to mention the action, the story, and yes… Schwarzenegger’s performance, which continues to be one of (if not the) best performances of the guy’s career. Once again, Verhoeven knocks it out of the park, reinforcing his belief that extreme violence can be easily paired with a big-budget blockbuster. Of course, now they’re remaking the film, but we all know it won’t have the bite or the balls that Verhoeven brought to the table.
Which leads me to why I’m here: remakes like TOTAL RECALL are being directed by ball-less, soul-less directors. The whole Sci-Fi genre is being run by the Michael Bay’s of the industry, where special effects and marketing are the most important thing that goes into making movies, not to mention ensuring that they fit the mold of what’s expected of them, not pushing the envelope, and releasing everything as PG-13 as humanly possible. It’s a watered-down time for Sci-Fi, and while I like what J.J. Abrams is doing with the genre (STAR TREK and SUPER 8 = awesome), there’s not really a director working today that I associate with awesome Sci-Fi flicks that aren’t made for the 12-year-olds of America. And that’s where Verhoeven comes in. Even up through 2000 the guy pushed the Sci-Fi envelope with HOLLOW MAN, and yet… that was the last time he was behind the camera for the Sci-Fi genre. WTF?
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but I think the movie world is in a dire need to have Verhoeven return as a director of movies that don’t hold back, that are full of violence, sex, nudity, and most of all, an entertainment level that simply won’t quit. Is he in seclusion? Did he have a nervous breakdown? Is he still licking his wounds for being the guy who directed SHOWGIRLS (a film that has gained quite the cult following over the years BTW, and you know what… that’s saying something!)? Did someone swoop in and cut off his balls, ensuring he’d only make German dramas set in the 1940s for here on out? Whatever the f*cking reason is, the man has to get over it, he has to get a hold of a project that will showcase what he does best, and then he needs to give us fans, the fans who like more than PG-13 horseshit when we throw down our hard-earned $12 for a movie ticket, a f*cking movie with balls with no-holds-barred violence, with a titty or two, and with enough entertaining shenanigans to ensure that $8 popcorn we purchased at concession disappears before the second act.