Moonraker (1979)
August 6, 2015 4:05 AM - Subscribe

James Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle and discovers a plot to commit global genocide.

This is the 11th James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry.
ShrunkenCinema.com reviews Moonraker.
The James Bonding podcast (Matt Mira, Matt Gourley and guest Doug Benson) covers Moonraker.

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

Variety: "Christopher Wood's script takes the characters exactly where they always go in a James Bond pic and the only question is whether the stunts and gadgets will live up to expectations. They do."

Frank Rich, TIME Magazine: "Broccoli just keeps piling on the goodies: lush Ken Adam sets, gadgetry and gams galore, super stunts and effects."

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader: "Lewis Gilbert directed, but the real auteur of the series is production designer Ken Adam, whose spectacular chrome and plastic sets define Bond's world and technological ethic."

Time Out: "The space-age plot is spread dangerously thin, the fights all tend to slapstick, and the wanton destruction has become rather too predictable. But it's held together by likeable performances."

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "Moonraker is a movie by gadgeteers, for gadgeteers, about gadgeteers. Our age may be losing its faith in technology, but James Bond sure hasn't."

Vincent Canby, New York Times: "It's one of the most buoyant Bond films of all."
posted by doctornecessiter (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This was my first James Bond movie, watched while sitting on the floor in front of our old tube TV with my nose practically touching the screen. So for me personally it will always have that on other Bond movies.

But still I'm very surprised at how positive some of those Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic reviews are (they were all designated as fresh, btw). #PigeonDouble-Take
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:46 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


So much happens in this movie yet it still manages to be boring and overlong. On the other hand, the teaser with Bond and Jaws free falling out of the plane is a highlight of the Bond series.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:24 AM on August 6, 2015


The plot, and location of Moonraker is uncannily similar to the 1966 film Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die, which is definitely worth seeking out. It's (very arguably) a superior film (Tarantino is a big fan) that subverts the James Bond mythos, with the chauffeur ultimately turning out to be the real protagonist of the film. There's also great comic performance (bad British accent notwithstanding) from Dorothy Provine, who, in a different timeline, could have been another Goldie Hawn. The villain is a whole lot better in this film too, but that's not too difficult given the wooden performance from Lonsdale in Moonraker.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:00 AM on August 6, 2015


This was my first Bond film too, but I never went on to watch more of them until the Daniel Craig era. So Bond was always completely over the top in my mind, until the Daniel Craig era when I started actually watching more of the movies.
posted by PussKillian at 8:37 AM on August 6, 2015


So much happens in this movie yet it still manages to be boring and overlong.

I feel like this movie shares previous Bond films' problem of structuring the narrative as "a series of things happen that are only vaguely connected by a MacGuffin" but it did do a little better at keeping the momentum throughout. I could have done without the final portion where we get to watch Bond play Duck Hunt with the spheres of poison gas. The space station collapsing and exploding is a much better climactic moment to end it all on.

I mentioned this in last week's thread too, but it really seems like the writing and direction team were operating under a mandate of required five-act structure, when film audiences just react a whole lot better to skipping the Act IV falling action entirely.

I did like Jaws' transition into being a sympathetic character. A nice change of pace among the rotating cast of megalomanically evil villains. He's just a guy doing his job!
posted by capricorn at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, also, the laser battle is so bad. So bad. You can't tell which direction the lasers are coming from or going.
posted by capricorn at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2015


Joe Cornish's proposed Quantum of Solace theme song, included here for the bridge starting at 1:25, in which he pines for more Roger Moore silliness in the Craig era (specifically citing Moonraker's hover-gondola #PigeonDouble-Take).

Naturally I'll bring this up again in the Quantum of Solace post in a few months.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Such a great movie. It's so gleeful. The fight in a glass museum! The hovergondola! The stunts on the cable car! Jaws as the creepiest clown in the world! Jaws and Dolly! "I think he's attempting reentry!" What's not to love?
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:22 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Plus there's Holly Goodhead, which is just like they stopped trying.

"Gah, I can't think of a Bond-girl name pun!"

"Just call her Judy Blowjob or something."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:37 AM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


There's a fairly interesting video on YouTube about how the moon landing couldn't have been faked just because the technology to do slow-motion that looks acceptably like low-gravity maneuvering did not exist in 1969 (or, more accurately, could not have been converted to video at the volume required for the length of the lunar telecasts, but whatever). I have to say, seeing how bad the space battle looked here, 10 years later, boy does that come through.

As for the rest of it, it's incredibly silly but still manages to be fun for the most part. I'd only ever seen the last 5 or 10 minutes before, so I was a bit surprised by just how long it took them to get into space. In retrospect, though, they were probably right to wait as long as possible because almost all of the entertaining bits are on Earth. And I'll second the praise for the skydiving sequence, that was really well done, I thought.
posted by Copronymus at 4:42 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


This was also my first Bond movie, and I've always felt like this is what Bond movies are supposed to be. There's supposed to be lots of campy humor, cool gadgets and crazy stunts, all falling just short of Austin Powers-level goofiness. Whenever people talk about how the series is getting too silly and it needs to get more gritty and grounded, I just can't relate at all. It's James Bond! He's supposed to be fun and campy, with supervillians in space and hot ladies with cringeworthy sex puns for their names.

None of which is to say that the people who like a more serious Bond are wrong. Just that there is a Bond continuum from goofy-ass to dour and earthbound, and for some of us this movie hits the sweet spot.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:28 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Disregarding A View to a Kill to an extent, this was the last really silly sci-fi plot in Bond movie for a long time...All the way to Brosnan. The 80s were all Cold War politics and drug dealers.
posted by doctornecessiter at 3:45 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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