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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents

Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles—The Klendathu Campaign (1999)

"You have no idea who you're messing with!"- Lieutenant Jenkins (Rider Strong)

Stars: Rino Romano, Tish Hicks, Nicholas Guest
Other Stars: Jamie Hanes, James Horan, Rider Strong
Director: David Hartman

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG for pervasive sci-fi action violence
Run Time: 01h:36m:54s
Release Date: 2002-05-28
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- B


DVD Review

In an interesting move, despite the fact that the Starship Troopers saga starts with planet Klendathu, it's the next-to-last stop on the campaign tour of the universe we're taking with our heavily armed pals, the Roughnecks. It's time for humans to take on the bug menace on their own turf and, as it turns out, it's the roughest fight yet. Unlike the limited scope of the feature film, here we learn that the bugs certainly adapt well and constantly make themselves deadlier. Luckily, this provides plenty of excuses for action, tragedy, and a whole lot of creatures to deal with.

As this volume begins (editing the original television episodes 26-30 into a feature-length film), the Roughnecks are headed to Klendathu for the final push. Instead of being able to sleep in stasis, they're given lookout duty, and so they must watch over a very quiet, lonely starship. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Zander awakens from his stasis sleep a bit early, and is infected with a strange bug virus to boot. He turns into a half-insect/half-man intent on destroying humans, but with all the intelligence of a human. The Roughnecks are forced to take on their old friend in mortal combat, unable to use weaponry aboard the ship. These dark events lead up to the even darker times ahead on the surface of Klendathu, where their encounter with Zander turns out to be only the beginning of a terrible new phase in the war effort. Interestingly, for a show developed primarily to fill spots on children's television, not only is Roughnecks pretty violent, but it also deals with themes of death and loss in ways almost never seen in a network animated program. Unlike the G.I. Joe days, these troopers don't "eject" before impact or magically survive the worst attacks. This results in interesting side-effects as the viewers actually invest emotions in these characters over the course of several discs.

Another serious change is to the character of Carl Jenkins, who is no longer the friendly, but commanding, personality. Now, his level of psychic power has become so great, he's consumed with immense abilities and the desire to use them against the bug menace. He's a finely-tuned weapon, and seems to care little about his old friends. As you can see, this is a darker volume that really manages to capture the desperation of the human military to keep up with the ever-improving Klendathu bugs. One of the themes throughout the episodes is the cost of war. Not everything is doom and gloom, though, and there's still plenty of excitement and high-points scattered about. As usual, the level of activity is simply miles above typical animated action shows, and about the only thing that could sem monotonous is the non-stop nature of the show.

Roughnecks suffered from budget problems and threats of cancellation (which eventually came to be), but even under adversity, I think the filmmakers show great creativity and boldness by forging ahead with even more daring shows. While some of the scripts are a bit stiff, it's obvious that a few things were scaled down for children's television and the stories aren't quite as complex as one might expect. There's depth, but it's never particularly well fleshed out, which is definitely a casualty of time limits and the demand to keep things entertaining, so it is forgivable. Overall, Roughnecks fits easily in its own class as not only a superb CG-animated TV show, but one of the best serial action shows ever put on the airwaves.

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


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Roughnecks is a nicely detailed, sharp transfer that manages to showcase the CG work quite well. I think it probably could have benefited from a dual-layer presentation, as there are some slight compression artifacts and shimmer in the more complex color schemes and in darker places. Otherwise, there are no complaints, and the general tone is extremely nice.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There's lots of action and activity to be found in the explosive Dolby 5.1 mix. There's a great deal of split surround effects, front speaker directionality, and an absolute ton of subwoofer activity. Every boom and blast is transferred into the soundtrack in such a way that you're really dropped into the action. Despite all of that, though, the dialogue is still perfectly audible, and the musical score is balanced well amongst the rest of the material. The 2.0 soundtrack offers much of the same activity, but not as clear or crisp. The bass is also compromised a bit in the 2.0, so if you're a fan of heavy rumbling, go for the 5.1.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by (1) Director David Hartman, Producer Audu Paden, Writer Tom Pugsley, Composer Wayne Boon (2)Producer Audu Paden, Director Kevin Kipper, Animator Jerry Davis, Animator Cory Flormont
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The primary features on the disc are two excellent commentaries by different divisions of the team that created the series. The first commentary (featuring director David Hartman, producer Audu Paden, writer Tom Pugsley, and composer Wayne Boon) is primarily focused on the writing of the stories and conceptualizing the actual sequences in the show. Like previous Roughnecks commentaries, it's very loose, casual and humorous. The fellows are all together live, so there's an excellent division of personality and they all seem to share the microphone time well. As the disc progresses, new personalities come in here and there, including the individual directors of certain episodes and sequences. The second commentary (also with producer Audu Paden) focuses more on the actual, hands-on production of the computer graphics and the work involved in making the physical reality of the Roughnecks world. Again, it's very casual, but manages to be constantly informative, active, and charming. Both commentaries are well worth listening to for anyone who enjoyed watching the program and wants to learn much more about the behind-the-scenes activities. There are some filmographies for the voice actors and a series trailer also included.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

Columbia releases another pleasing edition of this satisfying, immensely entertaining action show, which has definitely earned its cult reputation. Well worth picking up for fans.

Dan Lopez 2002-05-27