Exclusive: Ed Neumeier on the Robocop and Starship Troopers Remakes

What change to ED-209 made special effects guru Phil Tippett send the screenwriter an e-mail in all caps?

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


We got to speak with legendary screenwriter Ed Neumeier about the latest sequel, Starship Troopers: Invasion, which he produced. We’ll bring you the full interview about the computer animated film that’s available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD tomorrow, but we got to talking about the Starship Troopers and Robocop remakes.

The original Starship Troopers from Neumeier’s script and director Paul Verhoeven was full of satirical military propaganda about the fascist government leading a war on alien bugs. Rumor is the remake would be straight sci-fi with no fascism or satire. Neumeier actually thinks that’s a good idea.

“Somebody else should do a good job with it,” Neuimeier said. “Somebody has to have a military fantasy and play with that and use that as their platform and their stage is what I would say, and they should do it. I actually told them when they came to me and said, ‘What do you think of this?’ And I said, ‘I know you don’t want me having anything to do with it because I’m used to that by now, but let me set up a tour. Let’s put your guys through a nice military culture tour because you have to understand that the reason people love that material is because they love the military.’”

Today’s military with the War on Terror would indeed be quite a different subject than the patriotic rah rah of Verhoeven’s film. Which led to talking about Robocop, the remake of which Neumeier brought up himself.

“It would be [different],” Neumeier said regarding a sci-fi film based on today’s military. “It would be. It’ll be interesting to see what Jose Padilha is doing with Robocop because he’s going to bring that kind of Brazilian police paramilitary, I don't know, a different take on the way violence and force works, and corruption essentially. So it’ll be interesting to see how these things get played out by other filmmakers from other places in particular. I’m intrigued.”

Of the teasers released so far, what’s troubling about the new Robocop is how cluttered and animated the ED-209 looks. “The super ED-209, my namesake?” Neumeier joked. “I noticed he’s gotten a lot bigger now that he’s been out there in the world. He is literally tall, I mean much bigger. He’s fighting a tank so it probably means in that shot you saw, he’s about 12 feet tall maybe.”

Neumeier kept in touch with other Robocop artists, like Oscar winning visual effects Phil Tippett who created the original ED-209 with stop motion animation. The screenwriter brings word of more disapproval.

“You know, he’s all CG [now]. So for instance, the guy who made Ed, who animated Ed, Phil Tippet who’s got a couple Academy Awards for doing things like that, not for that one, but for other things, has said, ‘Yeah, it’s all CG.’ That’s all he said. Actually it was in giant letters in the e-mail. He just said, ‘C G I.’ Now that’s a guy who’s won an Academy Award for CGI by the way and also did all the bugs in Starship so he’s a guy who’s in both worlds, but I think the problem when you can do anything is that you just tend to keep putting something else on it. Put another gun on it somewhere. Put another this on it. I think it’s going to come down to the design idea, whoever is overseeing this stuff, and the process, whoever you’re trusting and that’s what you have to do.”

CraveOnline will have more on the Starship Troopers and Robocop remakes after we buy that for a dollar.