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Like the 1997 action satire Starship Troopers? Then watch these 3 classic sci-fi movies now

A soldier destroys a bug in Starship Troopers.
TriStar

Since its release more than 25 years ago, more and more people have come to realize that Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is actually something close to a masterpiece. (Well, except for one Twitter user, who went viral with his tone-deaf take on it.) The 1997 film, which is set in a future in which young army officers battle against massive alien bugs, is a hilarious send-up of the military-industrial complex and the ideologies that propel it.

Given its incredibly specific tone, though, it’s fair to say that there aren’t a lot of movies out there that are like Starship Troopers. That doesn’t mean there are none, though, so we’ve done our best to come up with a list of three great sci-fi satires that will remind you of what Starship Troopers is able to achieve.

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Mars Attacks! (1996) Official Trailer #1 - Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan Sci-Fi Comedy

One of Tim Burton’s least hyped films, Mars Attacks! is a pretty straightforward story about what would happen on Earth if Martians invaded. While something like Independence Day takes that story with a certain amount of seriousness, though, Mars Attacks! emplys the opposite approach.

The film is a camp comedy where Jack Nicholson has two roles, James Bond‘s Pierce Brosnan plays a scientist, and all of Washington, D.C. is totally destroyed by the end of the movie. It’s one of the very best sci-fi comedies of its kind, and one of Burton’s most underrated films.

Mars Attacks! can be rented or purchased on Amazon Prime Video.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Galaxy Quest (1999) Theatrical Trailer

Ostensibly a parody of Star Trek, Galaxy Quest has built up its own fandom thanks to its tremendous success. The film follows a group of actors who once starred in a Star Trek-esque series as they discover that real aliens exist — and that the aliens believe these actors are actually the characters they played on the show.

Thanks to brilliant work from a great ensemble cast, as well as a premise that lends itself to plenty of comedy, Galaxy Quest is a sci-fi romp of the highest caliber, and it’s also surprisingly moving when it needs to be. Add in a dash of Tony Shalhoub’s expert comic timing and a healthy dose of Alan Rickman, and you have a genuine comic masterpiece. 

Galaxy Quest is streaming for free in Pluto TV.

They Live (1988)

They Live Official Trailer #1 - Keith David Movie (1988)

John Carpenter has long been a master of sci-fi satire, and They Live might be his magnum opus. The film tells the story of a working-class guy who discovers that the entire world he believed he lived in is actually run by aliens who look like people.

The film is both deeply silly and a little bit serious, as it suggests that everything from the news to advertisements is designed to hypnotize the populous into unthinking compliance. Is it a pretty blunt allegory? Undoubtedly, but it’s one that Carpenter manages to pull off with aplomb.

They Live can be rented or purchased on Amazon Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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