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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(may contain spoilers)
Yes, Moonraker has its bad points, but overall it's worth watching.
First of all here are the major flaws:
This was the first Bond film in which Mr Moore started to look just a little bit past it. He seems to have aged quite a bit in the two years since the excellent 'The Spy Who Loved Me' and his wardrobe doesn't help - naff looking flares, blazers and safari suits in comparison with the far cooler suits and naval uniform of TSWLM. The makeup team also seem to have gone over the top with the hairspray - perhaps to keep Mr Moore's hair in place during 'zero-g'?
Some great action scenes are spoiled by poor special effects and editing. For example, the fight scene on the cable car had an obviously fake backdrop - surely this could have been done more realisticly with a safety net or good camera angles (like in the Harold Lloyd films)?
The whole of Drax's evil plan is ultimately pointless. Why go to all the trouble and expense of building a space station for a few people? Why not use a sealed underground cave (which he already has) while the rest of the earth is gassed? Surely this would be easier.
The humour is poor. Bond films (especially those with Mr Moore) have always been funny but the humour has usually been verbal. In this film feeble attempts at visual humour abound, such as our friend from TSWLM who looks at his bottle when he sees Bond driving the gondola. (Hmm - remind me to buy some of that hallucinogenic wine from Italy.)
Now the good points!
Excellent score - the music is really atmospheric and there are some memorable tunes that I found myself humming after the film.
Superb locations, (even if Drax's Amazonian lair does look like a 1970s garden centre)
To balance the feeble visual humour, Bond has some good quips: 'If it's the '69, you've been expecting me'...'I think he had a crush on me'...'your perfume is a trifle overpowering'...'Heartbroken, Mr Drax'.
Good supporting work by Mr Lonsdale and Ms Chiles, as reasonably believable villain and Bond girl. Even though Jaws is played more for laughs, Mr Keil still manages to make him a frightening opponent.
This is one of my personal favourites, as Bond goes to some great locations (Venice, Rio, Space?). But reading reveiw's for the film 'For Your Eyes Only'(from the time of it's release) it actually said that this was one of the best Bond films around and was on par with the excellent Goldfinger and i'm pretty sure that most of you people will disagree with that these days
Well after the quite serious "On Her Majesty's Secret Service",
is possibly my favourite Bond film. What I love about Moonraker is it fast
paced style; jumping quickly from one dramatic stunt (and location) to the
next. There are lots of good fight scenes and well-executed stunts
throughout the film. I love the way in each location Bond spies a
lovely eyeing him off and then when he finally arrives at Drax's Head
Quarters, all those lovely girls assemble and we realise (well, we sorta
already guessed) that they are all baddies who have been following Bond
through the entire movie. The film is light-hearted with a comic-book
throughout, but that said I find many of its sequences quite dramatic and
suspenseful. I also think the general plot is quite good; its all very
suspenseful and mysterious and at each dazzling location we find another
clue to the puzzle, but the truth is not revealed until the end. The
score is great too.
Why do people go on about this film copying from "Star Wars" when in fact everything in the film is pure Bond. The closing battle is pure Bond. And it is not the first Bond film to feature space sequences... what about "You Only Live Twice" and "Diamonds Are Forever"? What is so wrong with outer space anyway?! I really can't understand why people don't like this film!!
Moonraker is one of the best Bonds. The memorable Jaws is back and still killing. The lovely Dr. Goodhead comes to Bond's aid and the evil Drax will try to take over the world. Gee, I wonder what happens?
Usually considered as a low point in the series of Bond movies, MOONRAKER is
to me one of the best. There are a few minor flaws but on the whole
MOONRAKER is tremendously beautiful (I easily give it a 9 out of 10
Many people have compared MOONRAKER with Star Wars, but both movies have almost nothing in common. Almost everything in MOONRAKER was designed to create realism and believability, especially the wonderful special effects in space. Of course, the bigger-than-life dimension is present, as in every Bond movie, making MOONRAKER an excellent experience.
As usual Roger Moore is an excellent James Bond, surrounded by a very fine cast, among which the icy-cold Michael Lonsdale and two beautiful ladies, Corinne Cléry and Lois Chiles. Lewis Gilbert's direction is nice, the production design by Ken Adam is very impressive and John Barry's music is exquisite.
There are lots of breathtaking scenes in Moonraker: the precredits sequence, the death of Corinne, the boat chase in Venice, the fight with Chang, the second boat chase, and most of the final space sequence.
About flaws: a little too much humour at times, maybe a little too much technology; the space battle in the end looks artificial and the destruction of the spheres looks like a video game...
The space theme had been introduced and developed very early in Bond movies (Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever) and it thus appears logical that one day Bond would have to go to space himself; and there he seems perfectly at home!
This film really has everything that Bond needs, and it has the budget
and technology to make it look good. Moore seems quite comfortable in
his role as well, delivering just the right performance whether it's
action, seducing women, or having non-verbal encounters with the
Granted, Bond can work as a more serious film, as we saw in "For your eyes only", but on the spectacular side of the spectrum "Moonraker" finally delivered the ultimate experience. Those who find the film too unrealistic or outrageous fail to understand that at the end of the day Bond IS an outrageous character, and so are his antagonists. "Moonraker" simply did what most other Bond movies have tried to do, only this time they really did it well.
It remains one of my fondest childhood memories.
A Bond movie's pre-title section often indicates how the rest of the
movie will be. There are a few exceptions; "Moonraker" is not one of
them. James Bond (Roger Moore) is on the "last leg" of a mission,
introduced with the first of many genuinely funny puns in this movie.
Naturally, the unnamed villains plan to eradicate Bond, leading to an
action scene in free fall with one parachute too few. It is
nonsensical, but genuinely entertaining, thanks partly to composer John
Barry's music. This scene is not fitting in a James Bond movie, yet,
like the rest of the movie, it is great fun to watch.
Goofiness has decimated more than a fair share of Bond movies. "Moonraker" does not fall victim itself because the filmmakers did not try to mix silly with serious, and never made a mockery of their characters. That is the reason I was pleasantly surprised on my first viewing. I responded negatively after my second because I started to analyze it. I should not have been so serious. The enjoyment I felt the first time gave me all the information I need. Just because I did not understand why I enjoyed it the first time does not mean I have to hate it.
"Moonraker" is one of the two least popular Bond movies among the series' hardcore fans. It also made the most money until "GoldenEye," and drew the most viewers and repeat viewers of all the Bond movies between Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. No matter how different the movie's tone is from the "James Bond standard," it has enough positives to stand on its own. That is why both critics and audiences in 1979 voiced approval with their money and keyboards.
Its production set at least three world records that are still unbroken: most break-away glass in one fight, largest sound stage ever used in France, and the greatest number of actors in simulated weighlessness. Ken Adam became a legendary production designer with his work on the James Bond movies. "Moonarker" is his final, and he saved his best for last. The fact that the two-time Oscar winner was not even nominated for his work in "Moonraker" is a sad example of how political the Academy is. Like the movie or not, the Venice, Amazon, and space station sets are more than likely to impress even the most skeptical Bond fan.
After reporting to his boss's secretary (Lois Maxwell) that he fell out of a plane without a parachute, Bond is tasked with investigating the loss of an American space shuttle that disappeared en route to England. He first visits Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), the shuttle's owner. When informed that the shuttle itself was not destroyed, Drax offers full co- operation, then orders Bond's elimination as soon as the latter leaves the room. I have either discussed or viewed this movie with a number of people. Even though this twist occurs less than 20 minutes in, the movie conceals Drax's villainy so well that none of these people suspected him.
Drax's plot takes implausibility to its highest level. I will give no details except to say that it makes Karl Stromberg's grand scheme from the previous movie look sophisticated and sane. As advertised, the story boldly takes 007 where no British spy has gone before. Drax's space station remains the coolest set in the series. The simulated weightlessness remains impressive to watch more than 30 years later.
In tune with the movie's comical nature, Drax is often unwilling to harm Bond unless he can amuse himself with the creativity of it. Drax has more off-beat lines than the next two or thee Bond villains combined. I am not sure there is anybody who would seriously say, "you appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season" or greet a stranger with, "you have arrived at a propitious moment," but Drax has at least a dozen such lines. Lonsdale adds surreal humor to his role by speaking them with an almost bored somberness. A majority of actors work a whole career without having to say anything so weird. If Lonsdale realized that back in 1979, he certainly was not going to let anybody know.
In the meantime, Jaws (Richard Kiel) from the previous movie is back. Jaws' outrageous physical power and invulnerability made him a liability in the previous movie. "Moonraker" stretches it and uses it as a reliable comic device. In one scene, he stops a gondola wheel with his bare hands. The wheel starts to move again, but one look from Jaws makes it think twice about being rebellious.
The gadgets feature not one, but two special made boats. The first can convert to a hovercraft. Of course, Bond takes advantage of it, just in time for Victor Tourjansky to make another appearance as The Man with the Bottle in arguably the best running joke in the series. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) tops off his contribution by ending the movie with one of the cleverest double entendres in history.
Does all of this lavish praise equal a recommendation? Perhaps it does. My girlfriend condemned "For Your Eyes Only," Roger Moore's most serious Bond movie, as too cheesy. "Moonraker" joined "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "From Russia with Love" as her favorites. That told a lot to me about how the casual Bond fan views "Moonraker." It does not deserve elite status because it does not deliver the excitement a Bond movie should, neither is it an example of great movie-making even with numerous strengths. That noted, it sells out completely to its premise and is not reluctant to take the extra effort to entertain. I disagree with the filmmakers' comedic approach, but they did aim to entertain. In that area, they succeeded. For that, I give "Moonraker" seven out of ten stars.
My, how Moonraker has received some unfair reviews. I must have been watching a different movie because I consider this to not only be one of the best 007 films but also the peak of Roger Moore's career as Bond. I suppose I will have to make an attempt to defend the goodness of Moonraker: For one, the plot of this movie at the time was somewhat original and futuristic. Even now, it still stands out to a lesser degree. Second, the gadgets (one weapon in particular) made for a nice little battle at the end of the movie. Third, the Bond girl known as Dr. Goodhead is quite the attractive intellectual who can hold her own despite her cover. Fourth, the main villain while lacking personality is sinister and has some catchy dialog. Fifth, here it comes... the return of JAWS. Yes, the metal mouth giant played by the same actor comes back for his second and unfortunately final outing in the 007 film series. Though JAWS doesn't get quite as much screen time he got in Spy Who Loved Me, his performance suffers no less and still brings much entertainment to the action scenes that he is in. One more thing about JAWS and then I will move on... I really liked how his character turned out near the end of Moonraker. Without giving spoilers, this is one reason I wish JAWS was brought back a third time. The other reason of course being that his character is just so unique to begin with. Seriously, I don't think MGM noticed the potential franchise they could have had with this particular Bond character. To finally move on, the pacing might not have been quite up to par as it was with the Spy Who Loved Me and I think that is one problem critics had with Moonraker. As for me, the pacing didn't ruin a thing and I can't think of any major or central moment as to where the pacing lagged. Another reason critics bashed Moonraker is because of it's "over the top futuristic plot theme". I beg to differ; this is part of what made Moonraker stand out from the typical and occasionally overused 007 formula. Trust me folks, Moonraker holds up there with its predecessor that critics so dearly praised though rightfully so and as I commented at the start; this may have been a peak in the 007 series especially considering a few of the future Bond films that came after it.
11th of 23 Bond movies.
This is an entertaining movie but it sort of comes across as a futuristic reboot of the franchise...it's perhaps best to see it in that light, but there are some recurring characters which tie it closer to the time...which is unfortunate, as pretty much the most annoying thing about the movie is the Star Wars style laser guns, which feature later. It's anachronistic. However, since 1977's "Star wars" movie soon became the highest grossing movie of all time, it's perhaps unsurprising that this Bond film borrowed some ideas from it...with regard to weapons and setting.
Exotic settings -
U.S.A, Venice, Rio de Janeiro and...outer space!
A space shuttle manufactured by Sir Hugo Drax's Drax Industries disappears. The pre-title sequence shows what happened here. That sequence is what made me refer to this movie as "Thunderball in space" in my header...there is an equivalent sequence to this in Sean Connery's turn as Bond in "You only live twice".
Anyway, Bond must investigate the circumstances of the shuttle's disappearance.
Gun barrel sequence...check.
Pre-title sequence -
The greatest to this point, in my view...and quite possibly the best ever in the franchise. It really defies belief!
Main title theme song -
One of the great elements of Sean Connery's incarnation as James Bond was the great Shirley Bassey singing the theme song to some of his movies. "Le grande fromage" returns for one last great song...perhaps her best in the series. It's beautiful. Hal David wrote the lyrics.
Usually not much to say about the man, as I don't usually include what technology he provides to Bond in my reviews. However, I must say that Q's line right near the end of the movie is killer! He usually doesn't get that sort of quality dialogue!
Silly female names -
Dr. Holly Goodhead work for you?
Check. Bond is paternalistic here, at times. There is a good, awkward moment between Bond and Goodhead when they first meet. She has some good lines to use on him! Bit of a war of the sexes here.
Wine snobbery -
Check. Bond says "Bollinger. If it's '69, you were expecting me!". Hmm, seem to recall reading somewhere that that the wines that Bond values in the movies aren't really that well regarded by real wine connoisseurs!
Things of interest:
* Sir Hugo Drax is one of the better Bond characters...he has some marvellous lines to Bond...like the one about Britain's one indisputable great contribution to Western society...afternoon tea! Ouch!
* Animal lovers take note...some pheasants are shot in this movie as part of game hunting...but it's OK...Bond was shooting them in self-defence!
* If by this movie you can't spot the product placement, you really must get your eyesight checked!
* Bond comes across as a little bit creepy at times in this movie...sort of a stalker...which isn't really very spy-ish. Other aspects of his spy 'technique' seem to leave a little to be desired too!
* Not that Connery's Bond films were never silly at times, but here the comic book aspects are magnified and amplified...Q Division is in hyper-drive and Jaws is more of a comic book creation here...listen for the aural hint that Jaw's teeth aren't the only things made of metal on his body!
* General Gogol returns in this movie.
Notes to self -
* big words I do not understand...bolas/vassar funambulists.
* Is this true?...the orchidea nigra was worshipped once? Stuff about sterility...caused by this plant?
* re gravity...20g is apparently fatal. 3g is what astronauts launching into space experience. At 7g most people pass out. Bond experiences at least 14g. That's a memorable scene...nicely done...wonder how they done it.
This is a good, entertaining movie, but I get the feeling that the comic book aspects to it may alienate some people...not me, so much.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many people have written about this being the weakest of the Bond
movies, but I must respectfully disagree. Yes, it latched on to the
"Star Wars" fascination by being an outer space adventure, but it
certainly stands on it's own merits. The special effects are terrific,
but this is not just a special effects movie.
Bond's nemesis in the film, Hugo Drax, is a wonderfully overconfident, determined, bad guy in the truest sense of the word. The main "Bond Girl" in the film, Lois Chiles as Dr. Goodhead is by far the most capable Bond girl, up until Halle Barre in "Die Another Day". She is a CIA operative, immune to Bond's charms for most of the movie, and not only able to pilot a space shuttle, but also able to take out two of Drax's henchmen on her own without any help from James.
This locales used to film this movie were appropriate for the story line, but they were all equally exciting.. from space shuttle centrifuges in California, to ancient ruins in the Amazon. No wonder it is one of the highest grossing Bond films ever.
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