It’s difficult to have high expectations for a direct-to-video sequel to a theatrical film. And that’s actually beneficial to Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (released June 1), the kind of sequel that would never pass as a Hollywood blockbuster but was never intended to in the first place.

The original Starship Troopers was an ultra-violent, sci-fi romp with satirical undertones and performances so cheesy they came off like parodies. Although it shares the same screenwriter, this follow-up doesn’t possess any of its predecessor’s creative polish or subversive wit. It’s basically a war movie that morphs into yet another variation on the Alien brand of outer space horror.

The director, Phil Tipper, is actually an Oscar winner, although he won his Oscar for visual effects work (Jurassic Park). He makes his directing debut here, and it’s not surprising that the film’s most impressive element is its effects.

The performers are made up of vaguely familiar B-movie, TV and soap opera faces like Richard Burgi ("24") and Kelly Carlson ("Nip/Tuck"), who do a solid job with mostly under-developed material.

Considering this film was essentially created for DVD, it’s not surprising that the bonus material is high caliber. The audio commentary features the director, producer and writer and details the challenges of making a low-budget genre film. Those ideas are further explored in a well-produced, behind-the-scenes featurette. Finally, there’s a look at the film’s special effects work.

For a direct-to-video film this sequel isn’t bad, but it’s recommended for genre fans only.

DVD Grade: C+