I am personally flummoxed to find any actual satire in this film unless one finds satire in Bataan (1943) or The Green Berets (1968). I have no doubt that Verhoeven intended it as such but the end result is more a warm, wet kiss to Himmler and Leni Riefenstahl rather than a ironic indictment of their worldview.
'Do you want to see more?' Verhoeven's clever satire of totalitarianism and propaganda is well contained within the framework of adapting Robert A. Heinlein's classic sci-fi grunt novel. From its plastic fantastic casting to its fetishism of costume and perfect body types this black satire pulls no punches. Characters are simply intentionally planned cardboard cutouts save Dina Meyer who scores here.
With cartoonish impact akin to Lichtenstein pop art & Barbie-like plastic sexuality this is foreign policy as pantomime - which would be hilarious were it not ruinous in reality. Similar in technique to the earlier Robocop (media inserts etc.) this takes broader swipes at the hand that feeds it, although not satire all the way with some second-half longueurs between parodic outbursts. Plastic fantastic however. Pow!
Of course no one remains unaware that ST speaks the language of visual fascism inherent in most sci-fi/superhero blockbusters. Aside from the overt, I'm equally distressed by the homogenisation of race + sex in this utopia, the sly assumption that human harmony will only exist at the expense of some other. Its ironic, but my eyes still glaze over in action scenes, the joke continues after the punchline.
2-2.5 I think the satirical elements are really bold, and the film could just as easily be misunderstood to be a straight action movie if one wasn't paying attention. But, like Brazil, I think, at times, it struggles from just not having a whole lot in the way of distinct action happening onscreen. I think the second part of the second act suffers from this in particular; but I think the movie mostly works okay.
Its one of those films that if you don't get the satirical points and that it's meant to copy films like Triumph Of Will to show Fascism and Americanism fit like a glove it may go over your heads. One of the last clever left-leaning satires to come out of Hollywood. 3.5