Movie Name: Moonraker
Studio: Danjaq/Eon Productions
Release Date(s): June 26, 1979
MPAA Rating: PG
A Moonraker space shuttle is stolen as it is transported from the United States to the United Kingdom, James Bond 007 (Roger Moore) is called in to investigate. The source of the investigation leads him to the Moonraker creator Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) where he finds Hugo creating a master race. Teaming with a C.I.A. agent named Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Bond finds himself in a race around the world trying to keep up with Drax and his construction of a toxic nerve gas while evading the assassin Jaws (Richard Kiel). When Goodhead and Bond learn of Drax’s secret space station and his plans for Earth, 007 must shut Drax down forever.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert, Moonraker is the eleventh film in the James Bond franchise. Following The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977, Moonraker takes the title from 1955 Ian Fleming novel Moonraker which does feature Hugo Drax, but the film dismisses most of the plot (even leading to a separate novelization called James Bond and Moonraker). The title track is performed by Shirley Bassey who previously performed “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds Are Forever”. Receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, the movie is widely considered one of the worst Bonds, but it is also one of the biggest money making movies in the series.
Moonraker was never really supposed to happen when it did. The follow-up to The Spy Who Loved Me was meant to be For Your Eyes Only, but due to the success of Star Wars and the popularity of space-fantasy, Moonraker was pushed forward before For Your Eyes Only. Despite a lot of bad stuff in Moonraker and a plot that kind of plods, I enjoy a good cheesy Roger Moore Bond.
Moonraker is pretty bad, but for a kid, it is what you’d really want from a Bond. While The Spy Who Loved Me provided all the more adult aspects of Bond in a way that an adult would enjoy it (and a kid), Moonraker seems to be more for the kids. The movie tries really hard to be high tech, but when compared to other sci-fi of the time, it doesn’t hold up (though the parachute fight at the beginning is still pretty cool). The weightless scenes apparently just involve wires and moving really slow…plus you must not be able to talk in weightlessness because everyone seems to stop.
Fortunately, Jaws is back in this movie. Originally the character was meant to be killed in The Spy Who Loved Me, but here, he brings some fun to the script. With his Swiss Miss girlfriend, Jaws flips sides (apparently killing everyone can be forgiven by Bond), and Jaws safely survives the film. The movie also features the final appearance of Bernard Lee as M.
Moore also starts looking old in this picture. Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and definitely A View to a Kill have the super-spy looking a bit long in the tooth. Fortunately most of this movie has him not being too athletic, but I think if Bond really did have to run and jump, Moore would be in trouble. I do however like Lois Chiles as his romantic lead, and Chiles was originally sought out for The Spy Who Loved Me.
Moonraker might be a low point in the Bond franchise, but it is still entertaining. I can see that the movie is bad but if you did grow-up with it, it gets a bit of a pass. Moonraker was followed by For Your Eyes Only in 1981.
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