Sandrine Holt

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004, Phil Tippett)

The last time I tried watching Starship Troopers 2, I turned it off. I have no idea how I made it past that point this time, but I’m almost glad I did. The big problem with the first act is Brenda Strong, who it centers around. Strong’s acting “style” fit in the first film, but she’s a big problem in this one. She’s just too light to believe as a war-harden sergeant. Bad too is Lawrence Monoson, who’s playing, essentially, an SS officer.

Even Richard Burgi, who eventually gets good in the film, is bad at the start, but his introduction is at fault.

As much as I love Phil Tippett, the man cannot direct.

I just remembered, the last time I saw it I was attempting to double feature it to Desert of the Tartars. No wonder I couldn’t handle Troopers 2.

Anyway, Tippett. He’s not inventive with his budget, which is small but people have made great action movies on less. He’s shooting, it appears, on cheaper digital video and maybe in front of green screens. Some of the miniature work is solid and convincing; in fact, when it fails, it’s usually because of Tippett’s directorial choices.

Neumeier’s script has its moments, just in terms of writing quality, but he doesn’t really seem to know how to write such a small picture. Way too many characters, way too much going on. It’s a siege movie. You don’t need to complicate a siege movie.

Still, the end works.



Directed by Phil Tippett; written by Edward Neumeier; director of photography, Christian Sebaldt; edited by Louise Rubacky; music by John W. Morgan and William T. Stromberg; production designer, Franco-Giacomo Carbone; produced by Jon Davison; released by Columbia TriStar Home Video.

Starring Billy Brown (Pvt. Ottis Brick), Richard Burgi (Capt. V.J. Dax), Kelly Carlson (Pvt. Charlie Soda), Cy Carter (Pvt. Billie Otter), Sandrine Holt (Pvt. Jill Sandee), Ed Lauter (Gen. Jack Gordon Shepherd), J.P. Manoux (TSgt. Ari Peck), Lawrence Monoson (Lt. Pavlov Dill), Colleen Porch (Pvt. Lei Sahara), Drew Powell (Pvt. Kipper Tor), Ed Quinn (Cpl. Joe Griff), Jason-Shane Scott (Pvt. Duff Horton), Brenda Strong (Sgt. Dede Rake) and Brian Tee (Cpl. Thom Kobe).

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004, Alexander Witt)

Trying to figure out how to start this post was incredibly difficult. As far as sequels go, Resident Evil: Apocalypse is, tonally, a terrible sequel to the first film, but it’s still a perfectly reasonable b-movie. The first film, visually, is classy compared to this one, which has lots of quick cuts during fight scenes. The cuts aren’t distracting, since they’re about what’s expected from a movie like this one, and this stylistic difference is probably the least of all the differences between the two films. Apocalypse features, actor for actor, the worst cast in a film I’ve ever finished watching (at least in the last seven years). Besides Milla Jovovich, who’s good again but she’s not the protagonist–she runs all of her actions scenes, but none of her other ones–the cast of Apocalypse is unbelievably, almost uniformly terrible. Sienna Guillory is terrible, Razaaq Adoti is terrible, Mike Epps is actually just real bad, and Sandrine Holt is unspeakable. There’s not even an adjective for her acting prowess. The rest of the principles, besides Oded Fehr, who’s fine, are made up of European actors who stumble over their lines.

The reason Apocalypse works is because, even with the terrible actors, lots of stuff happens in different sets. More than any other film (except the monster who’s a cross between Robocop and The Toxic Avenger), it reminded me of Escape from New York. People running through a burnt-out city, battling zombies. It’s a fine way to spend ninety minutes, especially since Jovovich has some good scenes and I got to appreciate them, how shiny they were amid the rest of the film. Writer Paul W.S. Anderson, who didn’t direct and probably shouldn’t have, since the film plays to none of his “strengths,” actually makes her the only character with any depth, which makes the bad acting of the other principles so much worse. They’re caricatures of caricatures and, if the film appreciated that one, it’d probably be the best b-movie ever made.

The bad actors actually made Apocalypse a worse experience than it should have been, since most zombie movies have a watchable quality about them. Watching the film, marveling at the acting incompetence, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a worse film, but something needs to be said for the Paul W.S. Anderson genre. He can make perfectly fine bad b-movies, which is a rare quality these days.



Directed by Alexander Witt; written by Paul W.S. Anderson, based on the Capcom computer game series; directors of photography, Derek Rogers and Christian Sebaldt; edited by Eddie Hamilton; music by Jeff Danna; production designer, Paul D. Austerberry; produced by Don Carmody, Jeremy Bolt and Anderson; released by Screen Gems.

Starring Milla Jovovich (Alice), Sienna Guillory (Jill Valentine), Oded Fehr (Carlos Olivera), Thomas Kretschmann (Major Cain), Sophie Vavasseur (Angie Ashford), Razaaq Adoti (Peyton Wells), Jared Harris (Dr. Ashford), Mike Epps (L.J.) and Sandrine Holt (Teri Morales).

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