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Wednesday July 17th 2024

Starship Troopers | 1997

Starship Troopers film location: Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming
Starship Troopers film location: Klendathu – “An ugly planet. A bug planet.”: Hell’s Half Acre, Wyoming | Photograph: wikipedia / Mark A Wilson (Department of Geology, The College of Wooster)

How did so many critics miss the point? As he did with Robocop, director Paul Verhoeven wraps up wry satire in a violent and FX-laden thriller, set in a neo-Fascist future. Regular propagandist infomercials set the tone.

The brief trial of the murderer (due to be executed live, on all channels) is set in the imposing Terrace Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, 607 South Park View Street, overlooking MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles. The Park Plaza (which no longer functions as a hotel) is a screen regular, though it’s the wood-panelled Ballroom that’s seen more often.

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The ‘Buenos Aires’ of the future looks a lot like Los Angeles, but I suppose that’s fair enough. The airy, glass-walled family home of Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) is the Wilen House (now known as the Henman House), 33583 Mulholland Highway, at Little Sycamore Canyon Road, in the Santa Monica Mountains a few miles northwest of Malibu. A 1993 house designed by architect Edward Niles, it’s already something of a screen favourite, having been seen in John Woo's Face/Off (as the lab), Fun With Dick And Jane (as Alec Baldwin’s fancy home) and The Benchwarmers.

‘Buenos Aires Education Center’, where Rico’s class is studying the failure of democracy (really, this was too subtle for reviewers?) is the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, 1011 Baldwin Park Boulevard, Baldwin Park, about 15 miles east of Los Angeles.

The school’s alpha males face off during a football match in the school gym, which is the Walter Pyramid, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, the 5,000-seater basketball/volleyball stadium of California State University at Long Beach.

Starship Troopers film location: Los Angeles Convention Center, downtown Los Angeles
Starship Troopers film location: the spaceport: Los Angeles Convention Center, South Figueroa Street, downtown Los Angeles

‘Federal Transport Hub 39’, from which Rico departs to perform his Federal Service, is the concourse of the New Los Angeles Convention Center, 1202 South Figueroa Street, between Pico Boulevard and 11th Street, downtown Los Angeles – seen also in Face/Off, Demolition Man and Rush Hour. Disappointingly, it doesn’t have transporter tunnels.

Rico’s destination is the military boot camp, which was built in Mile Square Regional Park, 16801 Euclid Street, a one-time Navy landing field in Fountain Valley, in Orange County, California.

Starship Troopers film location: Badlands, South Dakota
Starship Troopers film location: ‘Tango Urilla’: Badlands, South Dakota | Photograph: wikimedia / Scott Catron

The savage Badlands of South Dakota, near Kadoka, on Hwy-90, about 100 miles east of Rapid City, provide the bizarre rock formations of ‘Tango Urilla’, the alien world of sci-fi writer Robert Henlein’s novel (much of which is jettisoned to leave more room for man-eating bugs). A year later, the same landscapes became the asteroid surface in Armageddon.

It wouldn’t be a real interplanetary movie without a glimpse of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park Los Angeles. Here the giant, angled rock formations tower over the encampment where Lieut Rasczak (Michael Ironside) rewards the Roughnecks with beer and entertainment, and the order to “have fun”.

The final battle and capture of the ‘Brain Bug’ on ‘Klendathu’ are played out among the sharp spires and canyons of Hell’s Half Acre, about 40 miles west of Casper, Wyoming, on US 20/26, where a vast set was built for the humans’ command centre. It’s slightly larger than the name suggests – over 300 acres. In 2005, the area’s motel and diner closed down and the wild landscape’s status is currently undetermined.