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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles—The Homefront Campaign (1999)

"The real war hasn't even begun yet."- Lieutenant Jenkins (Rider Strong)

Stars: Rino Romano, Tish Hicks, Nicholas Guest
Other Stars: Jamie Hanes, James Horan, Rider Strong
Director: Andre Clavel, Vincent Edwards

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+BA- B


DVD Review

Set directly after the giant war on Klendathu, The Homefront Campaign brings the bug terror to the worst place of all: Earth. It should be briefly noted that at least one episode from the original series has been dropped in favor of the organization of the DVDs, and unfortunately, that episode had some events in it that led up to the beginning of this disc. Basically, Earth's military pursues and kills the Klendathu Queen Bug, resulting in the official end of the war—a new era in human history. So, as we begin here, the Roughnecks find themselves at home in a whole new climate and aren't sure of their future. Sadly, they don't have to wait long for a mission when Carl Jenkins insists that he psychically detects the presence of bugs somewhere on Earth.

Lt. Razak decides to give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt and investigate a suspicious area in North Dakota. Once there, they find a small town populated with very unusual people, and the perfect town on the surface turns out to be the tip of a bug-sized iceberg. A vast plan has been concocted by bugs (who presumably got to Earth from an escaped Queen Bug transport) to take over the planet in a much more subtle and sneaky way, rather than all-out war. Although military activity will endanger the lives of civilians, there are no choices left. Everyone is told to expect high casualties and that it's basically the end of the road: them or us. The situation is extremely dire, so the humor level drops here, and there are tragic losses for everyone. Unquestionably, those who've liked the series up until this point will probably like the slight change towards a less light-hearted direction. Roughnecks was never guilty of being silly, but much of the back-and-forth attitude between the characters is seriously muted here, which helps to keep the mood appropriately grim. It isn't morbid, but it has that 'war movie' attitude to it that enhances its credibility.

This final volume of the series has its problems, but the filmmakers can't be blamed for their technique. Essentially, the series isn't over and, as of the time of this writing, has yet to be completed. With mixed public reaction and financial problems, the team responsible for creating the show were never allowed the opportunity to manufacture the series finale, or the episodes leading up to it. Instead, they filled out their contractual obligation with a set of compilation episodes (which cost very little to produce). That may sound like a spoiler of the disc's contents, but I feel it's more 'fair-warning' than anything else. The series is excellent, and these final episodes are very good, but incomplete. Does this mean this final disc isn't worth watching if you've follow the show? Not at all; there's plenty to enjoy and experience, it just ends prematurely.

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The source seems a bit grainer than normal, but overall, the transfer here seems kind to the CG animation. There are some compression artifacts here and there, primarily in scenes with complex color schemes. It would seem part of the grainy look was intentional, perhaps to make the animation look a bit less stiff; more realistic and 'filmlike.' The clarity is very fitting of the medium.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 mix is very energetic and uses the subwoofer channel quite a bit. While the clarity is, at times, a bit lower than one might want (probably a result of up-mixing from stereo surround sources), the generous helping of directionality and surround activity makes it balance out. There's never any problem with dialogue and the track fits what's on screen very well. The additional language 2.0 tracks are fitting, but lack some of the power of the 5.1.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French, English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by (1) Producer Audu Paden, Producer Jeff Kleinman, Story Editor Marcia Griffin (2) Producer Audu Paden, Technical director Kevin Kipper, Foundation Imaging animators.
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The initial commentary, featuring producers Audu Paden, Jeff Kleinman, and story editor Marcia Griffin is a bit somber considering that the series remains technically unfinished. That aside, it's still very well paced and an excellent accompaniment to the show, especially since Marcia Griffin was responsible for most of the story direction in these final few episodes. They do discuss the eventual collapse of the show, the possibility of finishing it in the future (perhaps for home video), and what kinds of things they wanted to cover in the episodes that were written and recorded, but never animated. The technical commentary, featuring Audu Paden, Kevin Kipper, and members of the animating staff is of the same, high quality, but focuses instead on the challenges of physically creating the series. This is especially interesting since this was a period when the budget was beginning to seriously fall behind ("shoestring" as they put it), although you'd never know it from their skillful production. Both commentaries show a lot of enthusiasm and really compliment the disc.

The presentation is rounded off with the series trailer for Roughnecksand some filmographies for the voice actors, directors, and producers.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

Sadly, this is the last Roughnecks disc in the series, but many are hoping the critical success of the DVDs will spark enough interest to make the creation of the final episodes possible. It would certainly be interesting to see the story arc reach its proper conclusion, but in another way, the incomplete nature of the show leaves more possibilities open (an entire new season, for example). As I write this, rumors are increasing of the involvement of director Paul Verhoeven in a Starship Troopers feature-length sequel, and while it would be nice to see that project emerge, I don't think it will honestly have the lasting effect that the clever writing and breakneck pacing of the series does with its fans.

Dan Lopez 2002-05-29