IT'S THE ONE WHERE
Bond goes to outer space! When a space shuttle on route for England is hijacked in mid-air Bond is sent to California to investigate Drax Industries, the manufacturer of the spaceship. Of course Bond flirts with Moneypenny, the secretary, but not as much as usual. He does nail every broad with a pulse, including NASA Scientist Dr. Goodhead, a gorgeous brunette pilot, who works for Drax, and a Brazilian chick.
In the final act Bond heads off into space.
THE SECRET PLOT TO RULE THE WORLD AWARD GOES TO...
Hugo Drax, who basically wants to create a Noah's Ark in space, full of really hot people, and kill off the rest of the Earth's population. His vicious attitude, and his disdain for all things British, makes him really creepy. He's got a creepy sword-wielding Asian henchman on his payroll, and he hires Jaws, the creepy giant with the metal teeth from the prevous film, to take out Bond.
From the spectacular opening scene - the space shuttle hijacking - Moonraker moves at a brisk and refreshing pace. Bond is thrown out of a plane without a parachute even before the opening credits roll! The globetrotting investigation takes Bond to the waterways of Venice, the carnival of Rio, the waterfalls of the Amazon, and yes, eventually into outer space. In a rare case of lucidity the investigation actually stays on target throughout the film, using that "finding a clue and following it"-technique we talked about in previous reviews. Perhaps that's why the silly antics don't bother me as much here, as in earlier films, and trust me the silly antics are REALLY silly here.
The gondola chase through Venice must be the worst offender here. Bond is almost killed by a henchman who pops out of a coffin in a funeral procession! When he realizes his life is threatened he turns the gondola into a speed boat at the push of a button, and later the boat drives UP ON LAND! Naturally Her Majesty's Secret Service has a land-going-speedboat-gondola ready in Venice, should an agent ever need one. Right! And it doesn't matter how many ladies Bond has nailed, he can't possibly look cool in such a machine. Bond loses all the street cred he saved up earlier in the film, when he is almost killed in a big a centrifuge thingy. The kind they train astronauts in. That's a pretty cool scene, by the way, we can actually see Roger Moore's face distorted by G-force!
I don't think I've mentioned this in any of the other reviews, but can I just point out how appallingly bad the rear projection shots are in the Bond movies? Every time we get a big action sequence, where the whole thing is obviously done by stuntmen 20 years younger than Bond, there's one or two quick glimpses of the actual Bond actor pretending to be a part of the scene, shot in a studio in front of a screen showing an incredibly shaky shot from the stunt sequence. It's almost laughable how unconvincing this is, and yet there's at least one sequence like this in every Bond. Are these shots fooling anybody? Where they EVER fooling anybody?
The success of Star Wars forced the producers to think outside the box, so that's the reason the last half hour takes place in outer space. I don't actually mind this sequence. We get space shuttles, a space station, zero gravity scenes, it's all very impressive. Inevitably the giant space battle between two teams of astronauts with freakin' laser guns seems a bit forced, but luckily the visual effects throughout this sequence are surprisingly well done.
If The Man with the Golden Gun is commonly referred to as Moore's most disappointing film, Moonraker is usually laughed off a the most embarrassing and ill conceived attempt to stay current. I will say this: There's a distinct possibility that original 007 creator Ian Flemming was spinning in his grave, when this film was revealed to the world.
Yes, Moonraker is a completely silly film, but I must admit I absolutely love it. Chalk it up to my fascination with Star Wars, if you must, but if it was up to me Bond can (and should) go into outer space any time he wants. As long as he stays out of Harlem, I'm fine with it.