Moonraker: when an airplane transporting the brand new ‘Moonraker’ space shuttle blows up James Bond is sent to figure out why none of Moonraker is in the debris. With the help of a female scientist they find out that it’s part of a Madman’s plan to wipe out the human race and start a superior one in space.
Moonraker begins with one of the coolest opening action sequences, with 007 hurling himself out of a ‘plane, freefalling down to Jaws and fighting him in mid-air for the last parachute.
With Star Wars V, Alien and the First Star Trek film being released in the same year – and Bond’s uncanny nack of incorporating the latest trends – 007 was always going to be heading to space… it’s just a pity that it didn’t work out. It borrows heavily from previous successful sci-fi hits like 2001 and Logans Run, with some ridiculous additions like a huge laser battle between the ‘perfect’ humans and U.S. Space Marines!?!? Not all of the space section is lame though, the zero-G sequence is jaw-dropping, and is as convincing as anything Kubrik achieved in 2001. I guess you have to remember that space was still very cool back then.
Other bits in my Moonraker scrapbook are: the ridiculous stereotype of Rio De Janeiro (with everyone samba dancing and a carnival around every corner). The fact that Drax’s plans on heading up a ‘superior race’, despite being short, hairy and having a perfect face for the radio. Jaws looks uncannily like Willem Dafoe here, and despite falling out of a plane and getting mauled in a cable car crash it only takes about 5 samba dancers to drag him away from Bond! The ‘comedy’ element is cringe-worthy with Jaws making flapping motions in mid air and a terrible “He’s behind you” pantomime moment. The name Dr Goodhead is timeless, as is the shooting of the sniper out of the tree and the sound of the door password. Another part that sticks out for all the right reasons is the tastefully done dog-chase scene, it’s like a little bit or arthouse sticking out like a sore thumb.
Moonraker’s biggest weakness is that it tries to do too much in one film, and it’s all done in a way that means that the tone’s all over the place: it’s a long-winded story, a slice of the middle east, a bit of latin america, 5 minutes of a ridiculous Western, and a whole lotta space tomfoolery, all mixed in with some terrible attempts at comedy. Definitely one of the weaker, and more dated films
Villain: Humourless, emotionless, beard. Identical to Stromberg but substitute water with space. 3
Henchman: Bowlcut ninja Chang – pretty rubbish. Jaws – decent, but cops out at the end! 6
Bond girls: Dr Holly Goodhead – good. Dogfood Corinne – good. Beyonce look-a-like. Jaws’ handfull Dolly. 100 ‘perfect’ girls. Too many. 5
Action: Centrifuge, Venice / Amazon boat chases, glass warehouse, Cable cars, Space fight. 6