Moonraker

MoonrakerSynopsis: James Bond blasts into orbit in this pulse-pounding adventure that takes him from Venice to Rio De Janeiro and to Outer Space! Roger Moore stars for the fourth time as agent 007 and joins forces with NASA scientist Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) to prevent a power-mad industrialist (Michael Lonsdale) from destroying all human life on Earth.

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Moonraker

Date of viewing: July 25, 2013

MoonrakerOpening credits

The Thorn: 7.0 – Unusually similar to ‘You Only Live Twice’, the opening has a space shuttle getting hijacked – except that it’s piggy-backed on a jumbo jet. That it’s wired and tanked to easily take off in midflight is utterly moronic (the jet even has a setting to warn the jet’s pilots that the shuttle is about to take off!). Stupid, stupid, stupid. As is the freefalling acrobatics of Bond and Jaws, as Bond dukes it out over a parachute in midair. But, at least this is super exciting to watch; it’s dumb, Bond fun! Meanwhile, the credits are standard operating procedure.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Same opening as last movie with the nonsensical bouncing girls; however this opening is a bit more psychedelic which I prefer.

***

MoonrakerStory

The Thorn: 7.0 – This is the natural extension of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, taken closer to ‘You Only Live Twice’ territory. I like the basic plotline of a megalomaniacal madman wanting to reshape the world into his own brand of utopia, even if it’s convoluted and completely insane – and all too familiar. I also enjoy that Bond does some investigative work, but it’s by any standards amateur hour; even Holly Goodnight could have put the pieces together! I mean, he found Drax in two seconds and knew he was the villain, but they kept up the pretenses for about an hour before Drax flat out told Bond he was trying to kill him! Any couple therapist would tell them that avoidance doesn’t work and that open, honest communication is always best.

The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – This movie is a remake of “You only live twice” and “The spy who loved me”; the story and the formula in terms of the construction of the various elements of the movie, are exactly the same.

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MoonrakerBanter

The Thorn: 5.0 – Not as ample as in previous installments, and not at all clever. That Bond has become a lame-@$$ clown is highlighted by two exchanges with Moneypenny where he tries to recount his latest outlandish life-threatening experience and she refuses to take him seriously, instead laughing in his face. Sigh. The only moments of brilliance come from Hugo Drax (thanks in no small measure to Michael Lonsdale’s incredibly dry delivery); his lines are so superior to everyone else’s that he appear sharp and witty in comparison. And he’s a frickin’ loon!

The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – There was way less banter by Bond which is an improvement. Lonsdale (Drax) had the best lines and deliveries.

***

MoonrakerVillains

The Thorn: 9.0 – Hugo Drax is one of the best villains of the series. For years I found him bland, but he’s grown on me: Michael Lonsdale has a subtle charisma that infects any scene he’s in. He gives Drax a self-confidence and intelligence that is entirely convincing; whenever he’s on screen, we all know he’s in total control. Then there’s Jaws, the walking mountain with steel chompers, who starts off as a villain and ends up being a hero (thanks to tons of fanmail from the kiddies!). Making Jaws a good guy is like making Darth Vader the hero of the ‘Star Wars’ series. (Oh, riiiight…)

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Lonsdale playing Drax was the perfect actor for the role. He never rushes anything, he’s methodical, he uses a rich vocabulary, he’s emotionless, he gives great speech; his character is obviously an evil genius. Actually I really dig his scheme: taking over by killing everyone except for his supporters. And one of his employees is none other than Jaws, the best henchmen ever! If Bond didn’t succeeded in turning Jaws loyalty, the humanity would have been gone and replaced by highly intelligent, drop dead gorgeous couples, with only a few psychotic tendencies.

***

MoonrakerBond Girls

The Thorn: 8.0 – Dang… ‘Moonraker’ is filled with eye-candy! Corinne Cléry plays Corinne Dufour, Drax’s personal pilot. She left an impression on me decades ago: she’s beautiful, sexy, and has an alluring… accent. She was far sexier in ‘Histoire d’O’, but she’s nonetheless delicious. As for Lois Chiles, she’s quite cute, but her Holly Goodhead (obviously the writers ran out of ideas for naming their female characters!) is aloof and somewhat uninteresting. Then there’s Emily Bolton as Manuella: I’m like butter at the sight of her. And that’s not even taking into account all the beautiful Brazilian women in Rio or Drax’s handpicked women, whom he claims are genetically perfect. My biggest peeve is that, more than ever, women are playthings merely at Bond’s disposal. He doesn’t even have to try to seduce them – he can just clear his throat and they’re all over him (“Oh, James!”).

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Corrine Clery (playing Corrine Dufour) is such a beautiful woman. Unfortunately she plays a small role. However there is a great scene where Bond sneak into her room at night and shes disappointed that he wants information and not sex; no worries silly Corrine, sex does come after. Dr. Holly Goodhead (horrible immature name) played by Lois Chile (who strangely looks like Lauren Bacall) is not my type but at least is believable as an agent.

***

MoonrakerGadgets

The Thorn: 7.5 – Gadget-hounds, rejoice! ‘Moonraker’ is filled with gadgets, from the simple (poison pen) to the more outlandish (perfume flamethrower). Most of them could actually be useful, practical, but they have cursory roles – they obviously only exist to impress audiences, and that’s about it. And Bond does this weird thing with his dartgun watch: in one scene, it’s there, in the other it’s not, in the next it’s back, in the other he has a watch with explosives in it instead. When did he switch them? When did he find the time? Puns are awesome.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Bond has a dart shooting wrist band, handy for killing bad guys and stopping out-of-control machines, and a watch to blow up doors.

***

MoonrakerVehicles

The Thorn: 3.0 – Mercedes-Benz, Roll Royce, ambulance, cable-cars, space shuttles, space station, Bondola hovercraft, Funereal knife-arsenal boat, and an Aston Martin DB-V equivalent hydrofoil boat (but with a convenient glider for quick escapes. Moore’s Bond glides a lot. Too much. But Connery’s too rough and tumble for a stupid glider). My problem is that most of the vehicles are gimmicky and used in a stupid fashion (like Bond’s gondola riding down Venetian streets, or his hydrofoil getting chased and destroyed within minutes). Sadly, there was no camel this time – which is unfortunate, as it’s the only way to travel. Rhymes are awesome. Even more awesome: camels come with built-in mines and oil slicks!

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Bond drives a crazy huge speed boat just to let it crash into a waterfall and escape with a deltaplane? What a waste; no wonder Q is so mad at Bond all the time. There’s also a gondola transforming into an amphibian speed boat; you gotta ignore this one: its a lame attempt to recreate the submarine car scene from “The spy who loved me”; it makes no sense in the movie.

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MoonrakerLocales

The Thorn: 9.0 – Almost as amazing as the ones in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me, in ‘Moonraker’ we are treated to a massive French castle, the architecture and canals of Venice (including a glass museum and a cool lab), the gorgeous Rio de Janeiro, the colourful and sexy Rio Carnival, the breathtaking Amazon river, a space station, and much more. It’s quite something; too bad some of the sets were too indulgent to look entirely realistic.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Good locations: France (as recreated by Drax), Venice, Brazil.

***

MoonrakerStunts

The Thorn: 4.0 – They were all executed nicely, and the free-falling opener was impressive, but it’s all so totally pointless and/or stupid (ex: Bond vs. a boken-wielding enemy, the cable car duel, the boat chases) that it takes away from the excitement. Plus which there’s tons of bad rear-projection work used to insert Moore into the picture. Anyway, ‘Moonraker’ depends on “special” effects (ex: ill-conceived weightlessness, laser battles, ..etc) more than stunts here.

The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – A lot of action scenes and stunts are superfluous; better not pay too much attention.

***

MoonrakerSoundtrack

The Thorn: 8.5 – I’m a big fan of John Barry’s score for ‘Moonraker’: it features a smooth, dreamy theme (instead of the usual bombastic ones) which is perfect for the film’s ambiance, an excellent recurring military-like march that is tailored for all the space-related sequences, a judicious use of ‘”The James Bond Theme” and even a final appearance (so far!) of “007”, the other James Bond theme. This is one of my all-time favourites scores of the series.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Cartoonish, but less than “The spy who loved me”.

***

MoonrakerBest Bond moment

The Thorn: “My God, what’s Bond doing?” “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir.” Bwahahahaha!!! Classic!

The Horrible Dr. B: The performance of Moore when Bond steps out of the centrifuge machine: he collapses, loses control, composure and dignity for a few seconds. A rare moment to see a vulnerable and weak Bond.

***

MoonrakerWorst Bond moment

The Thorn: Bond brings M and the Minister to Venice just to check out a contaminated lab, without having it sealed off and inspected first – and having waited long enough (days? hours?) that Drax was able to clear out and clean out the lab and pose an ornate office in its place. How did he pull that off? Then Drax just pretended that everything was business-as-usual and everyone believed him, but not Bond. As if. That’s just plain dumb, and it was an insult to the audience’s intelligence.

The Horrible Dr. B: There are many. The worst for me is the space station: It’s the ugliest space station I ever seen. It’s asymmetric and is constructed in a very flimsy way.

***

MoonrakerOverall impression

The Thorn: 6.75 – Honestly, when I think of ‘Moonraker’, I can only think of the bad points: the cheesy humour, the obtrusive product placement (7-Up shows up THREE times!), the nonsensical action sequences, the poorly devised plot developments. And it’s pretty much the same movie as ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (recurring characters, same gags, similar action sequences, …etc.), except that it’s in space instead of under water (the producers wanted to capitalize on the success of ‘Star Wars’ – they had originally planned to make ‘For Your Eyes Only’). And yet, it’s not all bad. It’s just that it’s a bloated beast of a film, and could probably be finessed more; this was made for kids and it shows. Thankfully, Bond will come back to earth in the next installment.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The formulaic format of the movie really stands out. The movie has some great elements (Drax, Jaws, Corrine, and Moore’s not bad in this one) but it doesn’t make up for the rest. However, there is an advantage to the format used: you could easily remove multiple useless action scenes and the story would still stand; this way the bad part are easier to tune out. When an action scene starts, you can attend to more important tasks, like getting some munchies, write down an idea on how to take over the world, perform a karaoke song, or try a cheesy Bond pickup line on your partner. Be creative!

James Bond will return inFor Your Eyes Only

One response to “Moonraker

  1. Pingback: The Spy Who Loved Me | thecriticaleye·

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