When I decided to do a week of Bond movies, I made a concerted effort to get a good representation of each actor who played James Bond. I also tried to make sure I chose well regarded entries into the series. I wanted to come away from this exercise liking the series, or knowing I had at least given it every chance. But I also wanted to make sure I embraced some of the more ridiculous moments in Bondome. And nothing looked more ridiculous to me, than Roger Moore in a space suit. Which is why I watched Moonraker.
A space shuttle built by Drax Industries is hijacked while in transit and on loan to the Americans. James Bond (Roger Moore) is called in to find it. He too is hijacked while in transit with a pretty cool opening action sequence that sees Bond battling Jaws (Richard Kiel), fighting over a parachute as they plummet towards to Earth. Soon, Bond decides the best place to start his investigation is with the head of Drax Industries, Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax. I wonder if he changed his name after he started working there to show his dedication to the company, or if was just a happy coincidence?
Once within Drax Industries, Bond meets Drax’s personal pilot (Corrine Clery) and sexy astronaut, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). He goes to town on both, using them to figure out that Drax is in fact the man who stole his own shuttle, all in aid of his plan to populate a secret space station with Earth’s greatest hotties, and start a new, master race.
I’m now six movies into the Bond series and I have a question. Does Bond have to spend time living with his enemy in each and every movie? He’s always a guest in their manor, a prisoner in their lair, a mooch on their hospitality. It was kind of interesting to see to watch this out in the open cat and mouse game of passive aggression the first time in Dr No, but by this stage, it’s just getting old and repetitive.
According to IMDB, “the budget for Moonraker was more than the combined budget total of the first six EON James Bond movies put together”. I read that early on while watching the movie and spent the next 90 minutes wondering where that money went. Because it certainly didn’t go to special effects or stunt / fight coordinators. There’s some Benny Hill level under cranking going on that completely sucks all of the air out of a boat chase in Venice, and the fight choreography looks like it was quickly made up on the spot buy the actors while the crew was setting up the cameras and lights.
But then the last act kicks in, with Bond and Goodhead following Drax to his space station, and every cent of that massive budget is right there on the screen. The effects of the shuttles flying toward the space station are great, and the anti-gravity stuff once on board looks pretty cool too. It’s not Gravity level stuff, but it’s way better than anything I expected from a corny Bond movie made in 1979.
Right, so I’m still nowhere near becoming a James Bond fan, but Moonraker might be the most enjoyable movie from the series I’ve seen so far. I might even like Roger Moore’s suave take on the character more than the tough guy takes of Sean Connery and George Lazenby. And I’m actually a little intrigued about what’s next, because I know even less about Timothy Dalton’s version of James Bond than I do about any of the others.