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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Tesca Campaign (2001)

"WARNING: Contains negative portrayal of giant space SPIDERS!"
- Case text

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 21, 2001

Stars: Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Daily, David DeLuise, Nicholas Guest
Other Stars: Jamie Haines, Tish Hicks, James Horan, Rino Romano
Director: Alan Caldwell, Michael Chang, Jay Olivia, and Sean Song

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG for (sci-fi action, violence, and brief language)
Run Time: 01h:33m:17s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 043396068896
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-A-A- B-

DVD Review

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles is the home video arrival of the short-lived television series originally marketed as a kids morning program. Chronicles is basically an extended sequel to the events in the popular feature film Starship Troopers, directed by Paul Verhoeven, which in turn was based on the classic Robert Heinlein novel. For those of you unaware of the feature film, it basically deals with humanity's futuristic quest to eliminate extraterrestrial insects, the Klendathu, from the universe because of their aggressive nature. It was characteristically violent, intense, and darkly humorous as are most Verhoeven features. The television series Roughnecks carried on that general atmosphere, but does it entirely with computer generated graphics. Some characters from the novel and film carry over, but this is generally a story of a slightly different breed.

The series was arranged by campaign, as the humans took on one Klendathu hive after another. On this disc, we have The Tesca Campaign, which equates to episodes 16 through 20 of the show, all edited together into a seamless motion picture. Here, human soldiers are forced to unite with 'Skinnies', a gangly alien race that was once our enemies. Following the events of the film, mankind has developed stronger weapons against the killer bugs, including the use of soldiers with psychic abilities that can mentally hurt the controlling 'brain bugs' within master hives. The latest missions all involve Tesca, a jungle moon that, although Earthlike, is loaded with Klendathu foes and other nasty beings. We follow the military team of "Rico's Roughnecks," named after Johnny Rico, the hero of the book and film.

At first, the Roughnecks resent having a 'Skinny' on their team, and blame their problems on him. Eventually, though, a bond of trust develops between the aliens and humans, and the Tesca campaign goes into high gear, with humans uncovering threat after threat, hoping to locate the controller bugs that lead the entire sector of Klendathu insects. Although simplistic in plot, Roughnecks makes up for it with gobs of space-insect-exploding action; quite possibly the most intense "kids" show I've ever encountered. The overall CG quality is very high and, as a result, the numerous action sequences are loaded with impact. Never have I seen so much non-stop activity in a show like this. Admittedly, the stories aren't too clever and there's little in the way of depth (other than the poor morality lessons occasionally inserted), but at least it isn't boring.

While the dialogue and general drama is pretty stiff, the focus on excitement makes you forget those flaws. The detail in the graphics is certainly deserving of praise, especially considering the speed at which many sequences move. Like many modern, computer-animated programs, the camera movements are now programmed to be more fluid and natural, adding an eerie realism. This isn't Hollywood or Final Fantasy quality, but the fact it comes close is fascinating. As an action show, this is about as good as it gets, and Troopers fans will probably enjoy this just as much as the feature film. On a side-note, however, this is a pretty violent program and the fact this was once morning-show fare really surprises me. I would personally up the rating to 'PG-13', and I would advise parents of younger children avoid something this brutal and unyielding.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Just a hair below the quality of other CG-exclusive series I've seen on DVD, Roughnecks is an extremely clean, virtually perfect transfer in every aspect. Although there is some slight detection of pixelized movement in foggy atmospheres or dim background shades, this is really a technical nitpick and doesn't effect the feature. The picture seems a touch darker than normal, but this is probably due to the artificial cinematography.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanish, Portugueseyes


Audio Transfer Review: An impressive Dolby 2.0 audio mix really makes Roughnecks come alive. Although surround effects are fairly sparse, the front channels provide a very active, crisp, powerful track filled with action and directional effects. Depending on your system set up, you'll probably get some good bass impacts as well. All dialogue and sound effects are well combined as well. While a 5.1 track might have provided some more strength, this does the job excellently.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, Pluto Campaign, 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Producer Audu Paden, Co-Producer Jeff Kline, Writer Greg Weisman, Director Alan Caldwell
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Conceptual art gallery
  2. Filmmaker's photos.
Extras Review: A commentary track by the central staff behind Roughnecks provides some insight into various aspects of the creation of the series. Interestingly enough, the commentary reveals that the television series was in the works before the motion picture was; Columbia apparently looking to develop several Starship Troopers related projects. They manage to keep the chat up pretty good through the feature, and those interested in the technical details behind the show should give it a listen.

A very small gallery offers photos of the Roughnecks staff that gave the commentary, as they're giving it. I guess it's nice in that you rarely get to see the people who are talking on most discs. Another small gallery of conceptual sketches rounds out the main supplements. There's a great deal of subtitle tracks, and two additional trailers finishing off things.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

I didn't really understand the number of people anxiously waiting for Roughnecks to hit DVD, but now I do. This a quality spectacle for fans of sci-fi/action. With the discs edited together by campaign, like movies, you're basically in for an hour-and-a-half of loud, fast, visually stunning, spider-mashing mayhem on each volume. If someone's planning a Starship Troopers feature sequel, I hope they look here for some inspiration.

 


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