I've been trying to figure out why I hate the movie so much and why discussions of "no, actually it's genius!" get my dander up. I think this is why: The book doesn't need his subversion. If Verhoeven wants to make a point about fascism, he should use his own vehicle, not hijack someone else's that had its own interesting thought experiments on the subject and connections with its time. When this topic comes up I can't help but remember that when Starship Troopers was written, a large portion of US males had been through the whole off-to-bootcamp-one-last-shore-leave-off-to-war trope. Only to them it wasn't just a trope for mocking, it was the very real possibility of getting blown to bits. It wasn't really science fiction, it was WWII and Korea. It's a fine line between sarcasm and just being mean, and I think Verhoeven waltzed sprinted over that line without even noticing it was there. What I find interesting is that he felt free to mock Starship Troopers instead of, say, Battle Cry, when the latter is clearly a model of source material for the former- it would have been far more challenging to write, far more challenging to pull off, and far more meaningful. He wouldn't dare make a version of Battle Cry the way he did Starship Troopers, which says to me that he was more cowardly than daring or brilliant. If you want to show war-movie-as-propaganda, nothing would get the point home more than using The Last Just War to make your point.
If the movie had actually expanded on the (IMO very interesting) concepts involving citizenship and enfranchisement, that I could respect.
And there is so much to mine there while updating it for the times. In an era of relative peace (keeping in mind this was the late 90s), what does it mean to make a sacrifice for your country? Can strong individuals make a voluntary collective stronger than an involuntary but instinctual collective, and what are the implications for human evolution and survival? What relationship can a military strong enough to fight existential threats have with civil society? What alternatives to universal enfranchisement might be possible and if they could work, how? Is it possible to restrict the franchise without violating our sensibilities regarding rights to self-determination?
Also I'm just mad that Verhoeven caused my wife and I to have a fight. On the way home from the theater I was ranting about how it ignored the book and my wife was saying "uh, IT'S JUST A MOVIE, stop taking it so seriously*" and we just went back and forth like that until we we'd pissed each other off. So yeah, fuck him. Except for Robocop, which was undisputedly awesome.
*and judging by the length and ramblingness of this post she was clearly correct.