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Starship Troopers
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Basil Poledouris

Co-Produced by:
Tim Boyle
Curtis Roush
Eroc Colvin

Orchestrated by:
Steven Scott Smalley
Steve Bramson
Greig McRitchie

"Into It" Composed and Performed by:
Zoë Poledouris

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
November 4th, 1997

Also See:
Les Misérables
Farewell to the King

Audio Clips:
1. Fed Net March (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

2. Klendathu Drop (0:31):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (151K)

5. Hopper Canyon (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

7. Dizzy's Funeral (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (244K)
Real Audio (152K)

Regular U.S. release.


Starship Troopers
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Buy it... only if you seek the most militaristically brutal and bombastic score of Basil Poledouris' career, an explosive and simplistic series of harsh action cues with little development.

Avoid it... if the poor presentation of the music on the commercial album deters you from expanding upon an already large and representative collection of Poledouris' more intellectually stimulating music.

Starship Troopers: (Basil Poledouris) Anyone who has actually read Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel "Starship Troopers" knows that director Paul Verhoeven's 1997 adaptation of the classic science-fiction tale was never meant to be completely loyal to the concept. Verhoeven took the premise and the characters of Heinlein's story and created a satirical parody of both it and the ridiculous television teenie soap operas of the 1990's. Throw in some glancing blows at the idea of a fascist utopia, the usual gratuitous voilence and nudity necessary for any Verhoeven film, and a poke at the news media in the Internet age... and you eventually get a film that simply can't be taken seriously on any point. It exists at a level far below the already questionable intelligence of Verhoeven's Robocop and Total Recall, and no attempt is made to hide that fact. For his soundtracks, Verhoeven worked regularly with Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris, both providing outstanding music for his previous films. While either could likely have written appropriately frenetic military bombast for Starship Troopers, the raw side of Poledouris' brutal sound for similar films of immense violence, going all the way back to Conan the Barbarian, made him the better choice. Because of the extensive post-production and special effects work necessary to bring the alien bugs of Starship Troopers to life, Poledouris was given an astounding six months in which to write and adapt his music for the film, consulting with Verhoeven frequently along the way. The director demanded rousing music of such a bombastic nature that Poledouris commented on the fact that each cue began taking on the characteristics of a separate title theme. As the process of lining up these monumental cues continued, Verhoeven identified the theme that he considered to be the primary idea of the score, and Poledouris adapted it for full statements throughout the film. A slightly altered version of this title theme is a curious aspect of a few key cues in the score, too. The finished music for Starship Troopers constituted a soundtrack that very much resembles the film: wildly hyperactive and lacking centralized development. It's the definition of a "thrill of the moment" score.

Poledouris' ballsy recording for Starship Troopers, explosively powerful and extremely heavy on the brass, is mixed in a very straight foward, in-your-face manner. The very flat recording accentuates the score's tendency to reach out and punch you in the face, though it understandably detracts from whatever elegance the music might have mustered. The orchestral ensemble is standard as well, with practically no instrumental or synthetic color. In fact, notable solos are difficult to come by as well. The "wall of sound" approach differs from David Arnold's Independence Day, with which Starship Troopers was often compared at the time, because Arnold made much more flamboyant use out his themes. Poledouris' music, rather, only maintains an idea for as long as a cue continues, rarely lending ideas that would pop up with greater development later on. Thus, the score's strengths are those individual cues that really knock you out with their propulsive, harmonic ruckus. On Varèse Sarabande's commercial album, Poledouris' only major recurring ideas would be presented at the outset. For the ridiculous faux-fascist Federation Network and its propaganda, Poledouris writes an extremely trite military march for rolling snare and high brass heroicism straight from the newsreels of the 1940's, with even a slight Western genre wink of the eye to make fun of the perceived innocence of the call to arms. The album immediately seques into the infamous "Klendathu Drop" cue, accompanying the opening to the human invasion of the bugs' world. This main theme for Starship Troopers opens the cue on harsh brass tones, and while the brash, patriotic nature of this theme feels sincere, it's too structurally simplistic to be taken really seriously. It's a theme meant for popcorn, disposing of any notion of complex design in favor of brute force. Still, the theme is satisfying enough in context, and equally robust performances of this idea would extend into the opening of "Destruction of the Roger Young" and the conclusion of "Brainbug." Despite the use of this theme and the "Fed Net March," Starship Troopers could likely have benefitted from further exploration of those ideas.

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In "Klendathu Drop," Poledouris systematically alters the theme for an interesting variant. At 1:45 into the cue, he changes the second note in the theme so that it forms a distinct precursor for the dramatic progressions of Les Misérables the following year. This more ominous version of the theme's opening bar provides a more serious edge to the remainder of "Klendathu Drop," aided also by frantic violin counterpoint that lends another dimension to the work. Rattling percussion in this cue sets up a premise of using the percussion as representation for the bugs, and while Poledouris does indeed do this in subsequent tracks, he bypasses the use of creative layers in a cue like "Bugs!!" with a more simplistic bed of timpani, stylistically similar to Goldsmith's use in L.A. Confidential and other heavy suspense work. This "Bugs!!" cue in particular is yet another example of Poledouris' choice to overwhelm the listener with noise rather than give the him or her any intelligent musical idea to associate with the nasty aliens. A few plucks on strings here and there are largely washed away. Among other singular moments of note, the string section provides relief in "Dizzy's Funeral" (after likely an accidental reference to John Williams' catchy Close Encounter of the Third Kind fanfare at 0:10 into the cue, started on violin and finished by horn) and "Brainbug," which treats the massively ruthless and ugly creature with an almost religious, organ-aided crescendo. Overall, however, Starship Troopers is ear candy, taking the heroic style from Robocop and magnifying it to nearly silly degrees that are, on the surface, engaging in their volume. But the score lacks much development and its album unfortunately contains one of the two grungy songs performed by Poledouris' daughter, Zoë. Fans of the score have often criticized the half-hour length of the album, and even Varèse Sarabande laments the circumstances that caused it. Double-CD bootlegs based on the isolated DVD score for the film offer extensive additional material, including the film versions of all the cues that were remixed or rearranged for the Varèse album. Devoted fans have long since ditched the commercial album for these bootlegs, though rumors about expanded official treatment for Starship Troopers have persisted for over a decade. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Basil Poledouris reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.47 (in 33 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.22 (in 33,622 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.23 Stars
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   Re: bootlegs
  Daniel Goodwin-Ryan -- 3/3/09 (10:28 p.m.)
   Re: bootlegs
  Thom Jophery -- 4/21/07 (3:27 p.m.)
   This soundtrack is outstandingly bombastic,...
  Sheridan -- 8/17/06 (2:38 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 36:24

• 1. Fed Net March (0:49)
• 2. Klendathu Drop (4:29)
• 3. Punishment/Asteroid Grazing (4:50)
• 4. Tango Urilla (3:50)
• 5. Hopper Canyon (2:44)
• 6. Bugs!! (2:20)
• 7. Dizzy's Funeral (1:18)
• 8. The Desruction of the Roger Young (3:27)
• 9. Brainbug (3:59)
• 10. They Will Win (4:01)
• 11. Into It - composed and performed by Zoë Poledouris (4:36)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a pictorial of the recording sessions and a lengthy note from writer Jeff Bond about the production and score, including the following quotes from Basil Poledouris:

    "It was Paul [Verhoeven, director] who pointed out what became kind of the main theme of the movie very early when I was experimenting with different themes, and we found something that I think represented the struggle, the camaraderie, the heroism, with a sense of fate attached to it. Paul's requirements are very thematic and emotional, to humanize what's happening in the middle of all this violence and technology.

    Every cue in this movie is like a main title, because Paul approaches everything differently. Every scene takes you somewhere else; it's been so unlike a normal film where you develope your motifs and you basically do variations on those motifs in different tempi and that's your cue. The devices become more textural and harmonic, associative things."

  All artwork and sound clips from Starship Troopers are Copyright © 1997, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/3/97 and last updated 3/2/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.