Bond 11, Roger Moore’s 4th outing…. Shouldn’t have been so. “Moonraker” was brought forward in the schedule due to the success of “Star Wars“. In actual fact, “For your eyes only” should have been next”… but it is what it is, so never mind.
“Moonraker” is certainly up there with the more iconic of the Bond films that I remember from childhood. For a starter, it is the one where he goes into Space!! But let us look at some of the other elements that make this film up….
- Jaws is in it again!
- Jaws gets a girlfriend (Dolly)
- Hugo Drax – one of my favourite Bond villains
- Speedboat gondolas in Venice
- The fight in the glass museum
- Bond in the G-Force simulator
- Jaws + Bond = Cable car disaster
So the plot is this, a space shuttle has been stolen in mid-air. Bond must discover why and who by. This leads him to find a plot for global genocide potentially being perpetrated by the mean and calculated Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale). Bond meets up with Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) who’s working on the same case so they eventually pool their resources. While investigating Bond has to survive attacks from Jaws (Richard Kiel) and Change (Toshiro Suga). In order to prevent a global catastrophe Bond must go into space – will he save the day?!
From a technical point of view “Moonraker” is a decent film, it’s just that after “007: The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), it feels a little out of place, a bit more humorous and cartoonish in comparison. With “Moonraker“, a lot of that realism is blown away – just check out the space infantry fighting at the end of the film to know what I’m talking about. But, in a total contrast to what I have just written, where the film makes up for itself is the lack of realism involved, the humour and the cartoonish approach. IMO it is pointless doing the same thing repeatedly, why not change some things up – and that is certainly what this film does. It gives audiences something absolutely random and demands that they sit back and absorb everything that’s going on – it makes the film an immersive cinematic experience – which film should be!! The film is beautifully shot across various locations including Brazil, Guatemala, California, France and Venice the film is stunning. The space scenes only actually account for about half an hour of the 126 minutes given, so anyone that struggles with suspension of disbelief does not have to feel alienated for long.
Roger Moore performs really well in this film, there aren’t as many lines as he’s had in previous outings, but he performs them well. This is testament to the amount of action the film has. The more action, the less time to recite lines. Lois Chiles is Holly Goodhead who is initially working against him but eventually pools resources with him, a good performance from a Bond girl with a memorable name. She was cast to not just be beautiful, but deadly too with brains and determination. In contrast, Corinne Clery, playing Corinne Dufour is just out and out beauty and succumbs to Bond’s advances with ease to help move the plot forward. Michael Lonsdale plays Hugo Drax, who for me, is one of the better villains. He is cold and dangerous, and always seems to be a step ahead of Bond. Very calculated with extraordinarily little emotion, he is an excellent foil for Bond’s cartoonish and humour laden delivery. Once again Richard Kiel plays assassin Jaws. Under the pressure of fan please to the producers, his casting sees him turn good guy towards the end of the film due to finding love in Dolly (played by Blanche Ravalec). I found this to be a little disappointing but it’s not something off putting enough to dwell on. The usual’s of Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell return to play M, Q and Moneypenny.
If this wasn’t a Bond film, it would be a great sci-fi spy adventure in its own right. The fact that it is a Bond film, and there is a space adventure too, meant that instantly there would be detractors. Probably the biggest negative about this is that is nowhere near to what Ian Fleming’s book of the same title is – yes the name has been used, and the Drax character appears, but very little else. In the book, space flight is not used at all. Instead Drax is building a nuclear defense system for Britain and the majority of the book takes place in the Britain too. To not use the great plot of the book was a hell of a let down – but then this film was a product of it’s time, and a product of other successful films being released and the producers wanting to piggyback that success.
The film has come in for a lot of criticism over the years, and depending on how you feel about this almost comic book film, it’s either rightly so, or unfairly. It might look a little dated now but in 1979 this was a big budget blockbuster. Personally, I say, just give it a chance and enjoy the film for what it is, escapism and fun. It’s a Bond film that I grew up watching with my dad, so for that reason it’s nostalgic – it would never wash today, but it is still fun, and really, that’s what cinema should be and so often moves away from. There are nods to other films; “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) and “The Magnificent Seven” (1960) to name but two. The opening song is Shirley Bassey who already had some Bond songs under her belt. It was meant for Johnny Mathis, but Bassey’s voice was better suited in the end.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert, with a screenplay by Christopher Wood, “Moonraker” is up there with the best of the Bonds (not the very best of Bond though), it’s definitely a memorable outing and one I have enjoyed at various ages of my life.
Title Song: Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
In terms of Bond films this is a 7 out of 10.
In terms of movies in the long and illustrious history of film I would give this a 6 out of 10.
Bond, James Bond, 007 – Ranking
|1||007: Goldfinger (1964) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|2||007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Dr. No (1962) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: From Russia with Love (1963) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|3||007: Thunderball (1965) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Moonraker (1979) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|4||007: You only live twice (1967) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Diamonds are Forever (1971) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|5||007: Live and Let Die (1973) ⭐⭐⭐⭐|