Moonraker (1979)

moonraker poster 1979 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

What a kid would want from a spy movie

Story jumps around too much,

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Moonraker

Studio:  Danjaq/Eon Productions

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  June 26, 1979

MPAA Rating:  PG

moonraker special effects space battle

Oooh…high tech!

A Moonraker space shuttle is stolen as it is transported from the United States to the United Kingdom, and James Bond (Roger Moore) is called in to investigate.  The source of the investigation leads 007 to the Moonraker creator Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) where he discovers 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 humanity, 007 must shut Drax down forever.

moonraker jaws richard kiel

He needed more iron in his diet

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 the James Bond themes “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds Are Forever”.  The movie received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects, but the movie is widely considered one of the worst Bonds (but also one of the box office Bonds).

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 james bond vs anaconda roger moore

Roger Moore is kicking that rubber anaconda’s ass!!!

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.  It is very cartoonish in the plot and action, and it does not seem to have the staying power of other James Bond films.  It feels like they are just chasing the trends at this point.

Moore also starts looking old in this picture.  MoonrakerFor Your Eyes Only, and definitely A View to a Kill have the super-spy looking a bit long in the tooth.  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.  Fortunately compensating for Bond, 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 (played by , 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.

moonraker space sex scene james bond goodhead lois chiles roger moore

Leads to the best Q double entendre “I think he’s attempting re-entry”

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 along with the gravity simulator scene).  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.  The movie at least does succeed in getting a lot of exotic locations for the set-pieces including a trip to Rio.

Moonraker might be a low point in the Bond franchise, but it is still entertaining.  If this were the Bond being used to introduce the character and the franchise to a modern viewer, it might not have the person coming back for seconds.   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.

Preceded By:

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Followed By:

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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