Of all the Bond films, MOONRAKER is, imo, the most visually striking of
the entire series. It looks like it cost a billion bucks to make. The
sets by Ken Adams are amazing (he should have won an Oscar for them).
The locations are stunning. The fx are well made and still hold up
today. The women are above average gorgeous (they all look like
supermodels before supermodels were in). All of this beautifully filmed
by cinematographer Jean Tournier. I love watching MOONRAKER just
because it's so damn gorgeous to look at. I don't know how many times I
saw it at the movies when it came out just to appreciate the beauty of
it all. Unfortunately, we are talking about a James Bond film and of
course there has to be the usual formulaic stuff seen in every other
James Bond film.
Basically, MOONRAKER is a remake of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I always preferred MOONRAKER over the schintzy SPY WHO LOVED ME, which was made just before this one. Lewis Gilbert directed those three Bond films and MOONRAKER is his crowning achievement. Personally speaking, Gilbert is a bad director. His films are always bloated and sorta soulless and yet still gorgeous. Aside from his Bond films, he rarely made an impression with his other films. In fact, he's the one who directed THE ADVENTURERS, which is a good looking film but it's really, really awful. I'm glad Gilbert stopped making Bond films. He was always too laid back for action films like this.
There ARE a lot of memorable scenes in MOONRAKER: the entire intro is now a classic and much better than the one in SWLM. Corinne being chased by dogs. The simulator scene. Bond fighting with Chang in Venice. My favorite scene is when Bond and Goodhead are stuck below a shuttle's rockets and are about to be burned alive. A near perfect action moment there. The climax in space is fun if improbable. I love the scene when they have to destroy those globes as they re-enter the atmosphere. Really suspenseful. But as good as those scenes are individually they almost don't register as a whole because the story and direction are so lackadaisical, so relax. It's like everyone was on vacation. There's absolutely no grit to this film. It's really sleek and smooth but nearly bite-less. The whole story seems to be just a preamble to the action set in space.
What really stands out about MOONRAKER are the many long moments with no dialogue. I'd say about 50 to 60% of the film has no dialogue. Just music and sound effects. It's almost a silent film. Moore didn't have a lot of dialogue to remember and this was an easy film to dub.
The story is as easy as connect-the-dots: The British owned Moonraker 5 disappears in mid-air and 007 is sent to California to investigate its disappearance. At the Moonraker plant in California (France really) Bond find blueprints of vials which leads him to Venice, where the vials are fabricated. And from Venice Bond goes to Brazil where the vials, filled with deadly nerve gas, are shipped to the underground layout of Drax (boringly played by the usually reliable Michael Lonsdale. Love the name "Drax" though). Oh and we learn that Drax wants to create a new race of super humans by killing everyone on earth by dropping those nerve gas filled globes from space while Drax and his super humans reside in Drax's space station. I actually like that part of the story and some of the grandeur of it (Drax wanting to be God) is actually achieved with the striking visuals and the amazingly lush score by the brilliant John Barry. Unfortunately, again, this is a James Bond film and thought provoking ideas are set aside for formulaic action.
I wish this wasn't a James Bond film. Take away all the Bond elements, the stupid humor, flesh out the screenplay and this would be a spectacular kick ass science fiction film.
Anyway, back to James Bond.
I really like Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead. She's my favorite Bond girl ever. Beautiful and sophisticated but tough. She's no bimbo. I remember a lot of my friends in school didn't like her because they thought she was too tough for a babe. I guess Holly Goodhead was Girl Power before Girl Power was in. For me, Chiles epitomizes everything chic and sexy about the late 1970s. She's unforgettable in that black jumpsuit. But the Holly Goodhead role is a really badly written one. She's almost an afterthought to the whole story. They basically needed a character to fly the space shuttle and Bond into space (something 007 obviously couldn't do) and Goodhead was basically that: just a pilot. Then there's Corinne Clery who is truly gorgeous but sadly, again, her role is minimal. Then there's the not so beautiful Jaws. Jaws was so popular in SPY WHO LOVED ME they brought him back here. I don't mind this but they turned him into a good guy and he even falls in love with a ditsy girl. This part of MOONRAKER is *really* bad. Someone should completely edit that storyline out of the movie and its rating would go up exponentially. And like in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the musical in-jokes were needlessly distracting.
These bad aspects about MOONRAKER are almost negligible though because the film is such a visual (and aural) feast. Whether it's one of the best or worst of the series, I really don't care. I can positively state though that this is THE best looking Bond film ever, with an actually cool science fiction story somewhere in it. I give MOONRAKER 10 stars for the look of it all but 5 stars for the laid back and sometimes silly direction. So an average of 7 stars.
Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi / Thriller
James Bond is back for another mission and this time, he is blasting off into space. A spaceship traveling through space is mysteriously hi-jacked and Bond must work quickly to find out who was behind it all. He starts with the rockets creators, Drax Industries and the man behind the organisation, Hugo Drax. On his journey he ends up meeting Dr. Holly Goodhead and encounters the metal-toothed Jaws once again.
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December 11, 2012 at 02:35 PM