The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, Moonraker.
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Today’s Key Movie:
Roger Moore returns but this time he is tasked with finding out what happened to a space shuttle that was hijacked in mid flight. Bond soon finds out that millionaire industrialist Hugo Drax is responsible and is determined to destroy the world only saving his ‘perfect human specimens’ to survive! Known to fans as ‘Bond in Space’, Moonraker marks our heroes first adventure into the stars.
Why this movie?
A funny thing happened just a few years before this movie was released, a certain indie film known as Star Wars hit the theaters and set the cinematic world into a spin. Much like the current Super-hero trend, Star Wars sparked a push for every movie franchise and every movie studio to do something space related. We. of course, had the return of Star Trek with the Motion Picture, we had movies like Battle Beyond the Stars, Black Hole and many more, so of course, the James Bond franchise couldn’t be left out.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
Although boasting some of the most ambitious special effects in the franchise so far, and by far more gadgets that any of the other films, this movie has met with mixed reviews from fans and reviewers alike. Some love the campiness of Moore and the absurdity of the story itself, while other see it to be one of the worst in the series to this point.
Me, well, As a kid, I loved a lot of this film but, as I got older, I found it tedious and rather dumb overall. The film seems to try to combine the great dialogue and banter of Goldfinger with a plot that makes no sense at all only managing to create a muddled frustrating mess that doesn’t quite fit in the Bond series we have gotten to know so far.
The movie feels like a broken mashup of various stories trying to form into one. From the ongoing assassination attempts on Bonds life, the return of the Evil Henchman Jaws (who somehow becomes an ally), the multitude of completely unbelievable gadgets (even a hovercraft Gondola…yeah), no-so-subtle references to other sci-fi films, ninjas and finally his eventual journey into space in the last 30 minutes of the movie, this film really doesn’t know what it wants to be. Sometimes comedy, sometimes a thriller, sometimes a sci-fi adventure, it has a severe personality disorder.
The villain of the film is a joke. Played by Michael Lonsdale, Hugo Drax is your typical run of the mill megalomaniacal industrialists who wants to destroy the world and only save those he deems worthy. He is no real threat to bond on his own, utilizing a multitude of assassins to get rid of the secret agent to no avail. Drax even hires the unkillable vampiric Jaws (from The Spy Who Loved Me) to kill bond only for the iron toothed giant not only failing by becoming Bonds ally, but also ending up falling in love with a diminutive girl named Dolly. So, not only is Drax inept but he really has a poor hiring manager as well.
Every Bond film comes equipped with an iconic song that really sets the stage for the movie you are about to view. Unfortunately, in the case of Moonraker, it is one of the most forgettable and possibly worst entries to the Bond series as a whole. The entire performance seems forced and frankly the opening credit sequence has little connection to the film itself other than starting the movie. Sadly, it is performed by the great Shirley Bassey and resembles nothing of her amazing work on Goldfinger.
Okay, wow, this is not looking good, is Bond at least good in this one. Well, that’s hard to say. Moore does his best with what he is given, playing the role to it’s limit but with how poorly the film is written, he seems to be out of place in his own movie. Sadly it is this film that gives Moore his bad name in the minds of many Bond film fans, attributing him to the worst of the franchise. I guess when you play a role for over a decade, you’re allowed a bomb every once in a while.
The one minor highlight in this films is Holly Goodhead who happens to be both an astronaut and a CIA agent (mary sue anyone?). She is every much an equal to Bond and proves herself to be a worthy ally. Sadly Bond relegates her to the sidelines for much of the film, ensuring that he is not outdone by a woman. While she is a great ally and character, this film tosses out all of the halfhearted attempts at female empowerment of the past few films and manages to make a character who should have been incredible into just another damsel in distress for Bond to woo.
All in all it is by far the campiest, most ridiculous Bond movie in the franchise thus far. As I said earlier, it has a horrible case of personality disorder switching from Spy Thriller, to Action film, to western, to sci-fi and never fully embracing any of single genre. It was almost as if the film makers wanted to corner the market on every genre so that they could fill every fanboys dream while only managing to alienate the very people who kept this franchise alive. To be honest, it is a wonder that the Bond series continued after this ghastly film.
OK, where do I get this movie?
If you have to own a copy just to watch a franchise stumble around, then you can get one here. It is only worth watching if you have to watch every film in the Bond series, otherwise, skip it and move on. This is not Moore’s best nor is it Bonds best and frankly, should be used as a warning to filmmakers when they try to cram too much into a film.
As normal, here is the trailer.
Late To The Game 3/14/2019
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