out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Review by Ophthodoc
3½ stars out of 4
It's sort of a mixed bag: Venice, outer space, Rio de Janeiro, nerve
gas, California.....but hold on a minute, we're talking about James
Bond, so anything's possible, right? Well, maybe....the eleventh
installment in the highly successful James Bond series, and the fourth
of seven films for Bond actor Roger Moore, Moonraker seeks to do
just that: The Impossible. While staunch Connery fans are incensed
by the film, and while it is indeed criticized for taking Bond where
no Bond should go (outer space), Moonraker offers just what the Bond
franchise is all about: Action, beautiful women, sex, gadgets, intrigue,
and most importantly, forgetting about reality and having fun. It's
certainly one of the more visually appealing and inventive Bond films
of the series, and one of my overall favorites of all time.
Moonraker could be considered more of an "afterthought" film. After
the highly successful 1977 film, "The Spy Who Loved Me," Producer
Albert "Cubby" Broccoli chose to delay production of his next Bond
flick, "For Your Eyes Only", to capitalize on the success "Star Wars."
With all its potential for gadgetry and technology in Space, the
making of Moonraker (and the inevitable big take at the box office)only
seemed obvious. After being passed up for the role of Anya Amassova
in Spy, rising supermodel and actor Lois Chiles was selected for the
role of Bond Girl Holly Goodhead. Her cool and smart portrayal of
the most outrageously-named Bond girl of all time is one of the film's
greatest assets. Polished French actor Michael Lonsdale was selected
to play Drax, Emily Bolton is cast as Rio agent Manuela, and the usual
cast of Bond regulars round out the ensemble (Lois Maxwell as Miss
Moneypenney, Bernard Lee in his final role as "M", and Desmond Llewellyn
as ever popular "Q".)!
Not to be forgotten, Jaws (Richard Keil) makes a return visit to
do some more floor mopping with Roger Moore.
Moonraker is a stark departure from all of the Bond films which preceded
it. Highlights of the film include a confortable Moore as James Bond
(it is widely accepted he "grew into" the role after Man With the
Golden Gun), exhaustive use of exotic locales, and of course, the
beautiful musical score by John Barry, and title song dramatically
crooned by series veteran Shirley Bassey (she also sang the theme
songs to 1971's Diamonds are Forever and 1963's Goldfinger). The
opening stunt sequence, in which Bond is pushed out of an airplane
sans parachute, is perhaps the best of the series to date. Other
action highlights include Bond's swordfight with menace Chang, his
near death experience in the Centrifuge Trainer at Drax's astronaut
training center, and the use of his dart gun, which is excited by
nerve impulses from the wrist muscles (it saves his life twice in
the movie - and it pierced the rear end of a horse in a painting in
M's office. "No thank you, 007!")
The only conceivable problem I have with Moonraker is its striking
plot similarity to Spy Who Loved Me. In Spy, villian Stromberg (Curt
Jurgens) plots to destroy Moscow and New York with atomic bombs, thus
allowing global downfall and mass chaos to ensue, creating "a new
a beautiful world beneath the sea." Are we sure this guy isn't related
to Drax? In Moonraker, Drax seeks to exterminate the human race and
to create a "new super race" on an orbiting space station. While
the scheme in Moonraker is much more fanciful, it is nonetheless similar
in intent. Also similar to Spy is Bond's adversarial working relationship
with the leading Bond Girl, and use of character actor Jaws, who disappointingly,
but perhaps appropriately, softens at the end of the movie and helps
Bond and Dr. Goodhead foil the evil plans of Hugo Drax.
While much of the science fiction element of Moonraker now looks outdated
and a bit hokey, it only occupies the last thirty minutes of the film
(in fact, the best parts are Bond and Goodhead's "earthly" adventures
in the Amazon, Venice, and California). Overall, Moonraker runs a
little long at two hours, six minutes, but it hardly comes close to
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service", which runs over two and a half
long hours. Although at the time of this writing Moonraker is currently
out of production, the Special 007 Edition Widescreen version is still
available at certain sites online, and offers audio commentary, a
documentary, and the usual host of "extra features."
Moonraker is indeed great escapist fun. Its critics say it's far-fetched.....well,
it is! But it's Bond, so that's all okay. Whatever your opinion,
Moonraker was one of the franchise's biggest hits: Up to the release
of Goldeneye, Moonraker took more in ticket sales than any other Bond
film (just over $203 million). So, next time you are in the mood
for a little 007 action, pop in Moonraker, make some popcorn, and
prepare for a classic 007 adventure.
Drax (to Bond, as Bond 'misses' his fowl shot): "You missed, Mister Bond"
Bond (to Drax, as his would-be henchman falls from a remote tree):
"Did I? As you said, such good sport."
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