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This highly underrated Bond film, the eleventh in the series and fourth with Roger Moore, has Bond investigating the disappearance of a U.S. Space Shuttle. This film works extremely well for several reasons: first, because Bond keeps his cool and escapes from so many deadly situations; second, because it is the most humorous of all Bond films, especially because of "Jaws" falling in love and its containing the best of Bond's one-liners; and third, because of the special effects the creators gave the film riding on the coat-tail of "Star Wars", released two years earlier. All eight Bond films released since this one (up to "Tomorrow Never Dies" did not gross nearly as much earnings at the box office (when figures are adjusted for inflation).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is definitely on of the best Bond movie ever! 'Moonraker' is usually sniffed at by Bond buffs, who regard it as the nadir of the Moore films, but I love it. As a strapping lad growing up in the '70's, I always made a point of seeing the latest Bond, and having fish and chips with my mates afterwards. We didn't care if the films were faithful to Fleming, if there was too much humour, or if Roger Moore's acting was wooden, we went to have a jolly good time and did. We'd seen Connery's Bonds on telly but for us, Roger Moore was The Man. Suave, sophisticated and debonair. On leaving the theatre we'd attempt to recreate Bond's fights, usually resulting in one of us getting cautioned by the police. And the gadgets! 'Moonraker' outdid them all. I once tried to build Bond's wrist-dart gun. I don't think anybody walked out of a Timothy Dalton Bond feeling like they could conquer the world, but with Roger's we did. And we saw them more than once in cinemas. No matter how many actors play the role, he's the one I remember with most affection.
"Moonraker" was the most expensive Bond ever, but after the success of "The Spy Who Loved Me", the producers were confident enough to take a step into the top budgets, also contemplating that after the blockbuster hit "Star Wars", a technical show up in space would sell. The movie was an immediate success, but apparently didn't become one of the most popular for the fans in long term, admittedly it has a few ups and downs. A very silly bit is the gondola, driving on land in Venice. The centrifuge, on the other hand, was a terrific idea. The opening sequence is a classic again: Bond falls out of a plane without a parachute, so he has to get one on the way down! The duel between Bond and Jaws (returned from "The Spy Who Loved Me") in the dizzying height of the cable railway is breathtaking. So is the beauty of Corinne Clery; not easy for Lois Chiles afterwards to get Bond's attention, but "take me around the world one more time" is a beautiful line. We get a Goldfinger type of villain again, a more sophisticated person though: Drax meets Bond early on, we know he's the bad guy, but we don't know what his plan is. The musical score of "Moonraker" includes quite a few ironic comments, but the western reference was a bit too obvious. The set design for Drax' base is remarkably different from the rocket base in "You Only Live Twice". While the latter was covering a huge round crater, Drax' controls in "Moonraker" are crammed in a rather narrow triangle room, but with a hundred screens nonetheless.
Without Sean Connery in the starring role, I wasn't expecting that
much, so this was a pleasant surprise because I found it to be one of
the better Bond movies. I'm not saying it was one of the better-made,
just one I enjoyed more than most.
Except for Roger Moore as Bond, the actors in here are mostly no-names. However, it was entertaining, had some good action scenes, lots of pretty woman, almost no profanity and some nice European and American scenery. The opening six minutes of action was great as were the opening credits.
Gee, I sound like I'm describing almost all the Bond movies. Well, I just felt this one is a notch above most of them in the categories listed above. The only negative to me was the ending, unfortunately. It was just too hokey and didn't live up to the excellence of the first 100 minutes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To even include this monstrosity of a movie in a catalog of Jame Bond
films borders on travesty. This was NOT Bond! This was simply a sorry
attempt to cash-in on the space craze started by Star Wars, and
complete the process of turning Bond into a comic-book character.
Fleming's Bond (or even Eon's early Bond incarnation, as played by Sean
Connery) is by now totally unrecognizable. He's not a secret agent (and
government-sanctioned assassin) but a jet-setting playboy crime-fighter
who stumbles from one action set-piece to another. Roger Moore's Bond
is a total lightweight, and comes across about as credible as Inspector
Gadget. Maybe that's fitting, because "Moonraker" is far more a filmed
cartoon than a spy thriller.
True, "Moonraker" didn't begin the slide from Fleming's vision into comic-strip, but did it accelerate it! You could even say that "Moonraker" ran the series right into the ground, so naturally there was no where else to go but "up" for the next entry, "For Your Eyes Only". "Moonraker" is absolute rock-bottom for the entire series, what with a totally outlandish plot, overblown futuristic sets straight out of "Star Trek", one-dimensional characters who are as thin as cardboard, and (most embarrassing of all) ill-advised attempts at broad humor.
The plot is senseless and ridiculous. True, Fleming's novel was horribly dated by 1979, but ANYTHING would have been better than what Christopher Wood finally dreamed up. Drax plotting to destroy all life on earth and breed a new generation of perfect people under his rule in a space station??? Does this make ANY sense??? All the action sequences are only tired re-workings of previous movies (far too many to list, but suffice to say that I saw elements of virtually every previous Bond flick made to date). And if this rehash wasn't enough, they even went so far as to bring back the "crowd-pleaser" of the previous film, Jaws. Jaws made a mildly interesting villain for one movie, but trying to sustain menace into a 2nd appearance just doesn't work -- you get the feeling that both Bond AND Jaws are completely indestructible, so where's the tension in their fights? I suspect the producers and screenwriter must have recognized this too, for mid-way thru they turn Jaws into a virtual cartoon character, and ultimately a "hero" who helps Bond. (Can anyone remotely picture Odd-job having a change-of-heart in Fort Knox and helping Bond diffuse the bomb???)
But what makes "Moonraker" truly unbearable is the comic relief. While Fleming purists might not like the witty remarks and tongue-in-cheek humor of the early Bond films, it could be argued that such an approach did make Bond more salable to the movie-going public. I suspect that if Eon Productions had retained the utterly humorless Bond of the novels, then "Dr. No" would have been a "one-off" production only, instead of the longest-running series in motion picture history. Unfortunately, each movie (especially from "Diamonds are Forever" on) became more and more campy and comic. By the time "Moonraker" was made Bond was being played strictly for laughs. James Brosnan, author of "James Bond in the Cinema", has called "Moonraker" the most expensive slapstick movie since "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"...and unfortunately he's right.
The gondola sequence in Venice comes off as ridiculous; the craft itself is stupid-looking, and the scene is far too reminiscent of the boat-chases in "Live and Let Die" and "Man w/ the Golden Gun". But the scene really sinks into the pathetic when the gondola becomes a hovercraft and moves into the piazza. At this point we see tourists staring in disbelief and suspiciously eyeing their drinks, people falling into the water a la the Three Stooges, and even pigeons doing double-takes! (Man, but Ian Fleming must have been doing some serious turns in his grave at this point). Then we're treated to a scene in which Bond gains entrance to a lab by typing on a touch-tone pad, and it's naturally the alien's tune of "Close Encounters" (groan). Bond also rides a horse, dressed as a gaucho, to the theme from "The Magnificent Seven" (gag).
But Jaws contributes the most embarrassing scene in the entire movie (and the entire Bond series) when he meets that little blonde German gal and it's love-at-first-sight. They come together to the strains of "Tara's Theme" from "Gone with the Wind" and walk off hand-in-hand. OH MY GOD...truly excruciating!!! (By now poor old Ian Fleming must of been spinning like a top). When I first saw this scene in 1979, I was practically grasping for a barf-bag. But I noticed there were plenty of yahoos in the audience who were belly-laughing big-time. Geez, but talk about the producers playing to the lowest common denominator. (And I thought the redneck sheriff of "Live and Let Die" and "Man w/ the Golden Gun" was as cheesy as it comes!). Jaw-in-Love would be bad enough to sink even a good movie (which "Moonraker" certainly is NOT) all by itself. But it's inclusion here insures "Moonraker" as the WORST Bond film EVER.
It's interesting that some of the most beloved Bond films are also some
of the worst (Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only),
and some of the most reviled are among the best (On Her Majesty's
Secret Service, Moonraker, The Living Daylights).
This movie set a new high in entertainment value when it was released in 1979. It was the necessary upgrade of the franchise in the new era ushered in by Star Wars a couple of years earlier. It preserved the best of the genre (espionage intrigue, plot twists, Bond mystique, beautiful women, gadgets, humor, haunting cinematography, and mesmerizing music), but brought them out of the gloomy and cynical Cold War atmosphere and into a more futuristic and optimistic format. It kept the Bond franchise fun at a time when the standards for fun had taken a quantum leap.
Roger Moore does a nice job in his last credible portrayal of 007. Alas, his age became increasingly distracting starting with the next outing.
A lot of fun. Deserves much more credit than it is usually given.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At the end of 'The Spy Who Loved Me' we were promised that Bond would
return in 'For Your Eyes Only'
that was before 'Star Wars' burst onto
the world's cinema screens and suddenly everybody wanted science
fiction! As well as tapping into the post 'Star Wars' demand for Sci-fi
'Moonraker' made use of space shuttles which a the time were still
being prepared for they first flight. The film opens with the midair
theft of a shuttle that is being loaned to Britain by its builder Drax
Industries. Naturally Bond is assigned the case and is sent to
California to meet Hugo Drax; the man whose company builds the
shuttles. When people start trying to kill him it is clear that
something untoward is doing on there. A document he sees leads him to
Venice where he bumps into Dr. Holly Goodhead, a woman he first met at
Drax's facility and who claimed to work for NASA. His searches lead to
a lab that is manufacturing a deadly nerve gas. His next stop is in Rio
where he bumps into Dr. Goodhead for a third time and discovers that
she wasn't being entirely honest with him. After surviving a run in
with Jaws he heads deep into the jungle and finds that Drax has built a
shuttle launch facility. Sneaking onto a shuttle Bond and Goodhead are
taken to Drax's orbital space station where they learn of his
diabolical plan to kill everybody on Earth so he can repopulate it with
his 'perfect people. Bond and Goodhead must stop him before he can
succeed and in doing so the receive help from an unexpected quarter.
This film is obviously best remembered for the rather far-fetched space battle at the end; this is a shame as there are plenty of great moments before they get there; Bond's brush with death in a giant centrifuge, his fight in a glass museum, a confrontation with Jaws on a cable car above Rio and a great boat chase where he hang-glides over a waterfall just to name a few. Roger Moore continues to do well as Bond and Richard Kiel makes a welcome return as the steel-toothed Jaws. Drax is played by Michael Lonsdale who does a fine job and has some great lines. Lois Chiles gets to be more than just a pretty face as Dr. Goodhead; fighting alongside Bond and even piloting a shuttle. I know a lot of people will find this film sub-par due to its bandwagon jumping Sci-fi elements but I rather enjoyed it; silly moments included!
About 2 years after the release of "Moonraker", NASA launched its first space shuttle, Columbia. This is the 2nd Bond film to involve rocket hijacking, since "You Only Live Twice". In this film, Bond tries to stop a madman from eliminating the human race on earth and breeding new life in outer space. Roger Moore does a superb job playing 007 with great wit and humor. Lois Chiles plays Dr. Holly Goodhead very well, and Michael Lonsdale is very convincing as the madman Hugo Drax. I found an editing goof the first time watching this. When Corinne (Corinne Clery) is seen running through the forest trying to escape Drax's hunting dogs, at first you see she's wearing beige shoes. Then in another angle, she's running with black high top boots for a second, then it's back to the beige shoes in the last angle.
This is the most entertaining movie I have ever seen. And I have watched a
lot of movies.
`Moonraker' is perfect in every way. It is much more than just an action movie such as the other Bonds.
This really is a piece of art. Surreal. Ingenious. Stunning.
If you haven't gotten the picture yet, this is, by far, the absolute worst of the series. There are a few decent scenes, but, let's face it, the whole space station battle thing was idiotic. Then, there's Jaws. He went from a terrifying villain to a comedic sidekick. The acting is horrendous on all fronts, the story is horrible (read the book by Fleming, which has a much more insidious, believable plot), and, unfortunately, it's the last one Bernard Lee (M) is in. DON'T SEE THIS MOVIE.
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