The Films of Paul Verhoeven
Business is Business
Turkish Delight (January 27/14)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven, Turkish Delight follows Rutger Hauer's impetuous sculpter Eric Vonk as he falls in love with (and eventually marries) a beautiful young woman named Olga (Monique van de Ven) - with the movie, for the most part, detailing the ups and downs of the couple's subsequent relationship. It's rather distressing to note that Turkish Delight gets off to a tedious, underwhelming note, as Verhoeven, working from Gerard Soeteman's script, kicks the proceedings off with a series of sequences revolving around the central character's sexual conquests - with the aimless (and far-from-plausible) vibe persisting up until the narrative pushes into an extended flashback set two years earlier. It's at that point that Turkish Delight begins to become something approaching a watchable drama, as Verhoven emphasizes the unabashedly melodramatic relationship between Hauer and van de Ven's respective characters. The episodic midsection, which revolves around Eric and Olga's freewheeling exploits, is often as exasperating as it is entertaining, however, and there's ultimately little doubt that the movie would've benefited from a much shorter running time (ie 108 minutes is simply an unreasonable length for a story this uneventful). By the time it reaches its tearjerking (yet uninvolving) final stretch, Turkish Delight has established itself as a wisp of a movie that suffers from an almost total dearth of memorable elements - with the only real exception to this Hauer's captivatingly impulsive performance.
Soldier of Orange
The Fourth Man
Flesh + Blood
Starship Troopers (August 2/08)
Based on the book by Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers likely marks director Paul Verhoeven's most gleefully over-the-top effort to date - as the movie, which is as unapologetically violent as anything within his filmography, boasts a tongue-in-cheek, downright campy sensibility that ultimately pervades every aspect of the proceedings. The film, set hundreds of years from now, follows a group of young people - including Casper Van Dien's Johnny Rico, Denise Richards' Carmen Ibanez, and Dina Meyer's Dizzy Flores - as they enlist in the military and subsequently find themselves caught up in a full-scale war against vicious extra-terrestrial lifeforms. Verhoeven immediately establishes an off-kilter mood by emphasizing the trashy exploits of the central characters, as the trio - essentially developed to the extent of their most outward attributes - must overcome a sordid love triangle that's complicated by Carmen's crush on a superior officer (Patrick Muldoon's Zander Barcalow). Edward Neumeier's teen-drama modus operandi undoubtedly proves effective in infusing Starship Troopers with an almost aggressively pulpy atmosphere, yet - as one has come to anticipate from a Verhoeven vehicle - there's a brutality within the film's various action sequences that certainly jolts the viewer out of their 90210-esque reverie. And while the movie does contain all of the beats and plot twists that generally accompany war-centric endeavors, Verhoeven and Neumeier effortlessly breathe new life into even the most familiar of interludes - with the surprisingly engaging stretch set within a prototypical boot camp certainly the most obvious example of this (something that's due in no small part to Clancy Brown's hilarious turn as the recruits' tough-as-nails drill sergeant). The 129-minute running time proves to be somewhat excessive, however, and there's perhaps more of a lull between the training scenes and the inevitable attack than one might've preferred. Still, Starship Troopers primarily comes off as an engaging and periodically enthralling piece of work that can't help but look a whole lot better when compared to its lackluster sequels.
Hollow Man (May 20/06)
Given that Paul Verhoeven directed two of the best science-fiction films to ever come out of Hollywood - 1987's Robocop and 1990's Total Recall - it's fairly difficult not to feel somewhat disappointed with the filmmaker's most recent stab at the genre, Hollow Man. While it never quite reaches the depths of flat-out badness (unlike its truly atrocious sequel), the movie remains surprisingly uninvolving - despite the inclusion of a seemingly sure-fire premise and an electrifying performance from star Kevin Bacon. Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, a brilliant scientist who - along with his ragtag team of researchers - has developed a serum that successfully allows the user to become completely invisible. After testing it out on an ape, Sebastian decides to inject himself with the potion and emerges the world's first transparent man - though, as he soon discovers, reversing the process isn't quite as easy. Hollow Man is, for a while, awfully engaging and genuinely interesting - something that's particularly true of the opening half hour, which deals primarily with the efforts of Sebastian and his team to perfect the serum. The impressive special effects - which still hold up today - certainly go a long way towards keeping things intriguing, while quirky performances from folks like Greg Grunberg and Joey Slotnick help disguise the general lack of character development among periphery characters. Having said that, the film's abrupt shift from thriller to flat-out horror doesn't entirely work; screenwriter Andrew W. Marlowe's decision to pack this portion of the story with some of the genre's hoariest cliches proves to be disastrous (ie the survivors split up almost immediately after learning of Sebastian's murderous intentions). Still, one can't help but admire the glee with which Verhoeven has imbued the film's more disgusting moments - though there's simply no denying that Hollow Man comes up short in pretty much every other way.
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