Ironically, Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers – a special effects-infested sci-fi saga about humanity’s war against a race of giant bugs – is more effective as a satire than as an action extravaganza. Like in Robocop, Verhoeven employs the basic trappings of genre as a ruse to sneak in cynical criticisms about contemporary society, and his film’s first half – a parody of 90210-style high school teen romances as well as rah-rah 1950s WWII films – is at once incisive and hilarious, in large part because his cast of bland, pretty ciphers (including Casper Van Diem, Denise Richards and Neil Patrick Harris) play their tongue-in-cheek material with straight faces. Given that Michael Ironside kicks things off by preaching about violence as the surest means to achieving peace, and Harris ends the film decked out in SS-style military garb, it’s not hard to grasp Verhoeven’s hit-you-over-the-head point about the inherent fascism of war. Yet his spot-on replication of both barking war movie dialogue and trademark love story moments nonetheless gives the film an entertaining cheesiness. Unfortunately, the combat-heavy latter half – despite some impressive CG work on the steroidal insects, especially during shots of them creeping across the rocky desert by the thousands – proves tepid and monotonous, and somewhat diminishes the overly long (130 minutes!) Starship Troopers' sardonic punch.