Movie Night Chat 007: Moonraker

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by omikron, Jul 13, 2021.

  1. omikron

    omikron Avid contributor to Paul McCartney's bank account Thread Starter

    Lexington, KY
    Movie Night Chat. James Bond Edition!

    I was debating on posting about The Spy Who Loves Me or Moonraker. I had some vague notion about discussing the most ridiculous Bond movie. Not worst. Most ridiculous.

    For years I had considered Moonraker to be the epitome. Bond in space is stupid, right?

    But upon reflection, The Spy Who Loved Me I think is the most ridiculous. The amount of comical facade with Jaws, the jokey music at times, the unfortunately horrid acting by Barbara Bach.

    On the flipside, Moonraker (up to the space battle bit) is totally conventional, believable and frankly classic Bond in it's approach. The music is stoic and classy. I feel like it is one of John Barry's most refined scores. Dr. Goodhead is both sexy and convincingly intelligent and Drax is sadistically evil as a villian.

    And honestly there are only a couple comical moments in the film with Jaws. Much less than in TSWLM. The space battle bit is campy upon reflection. It was a clear reaction to Star Wars and . . . well . . . I can't really defend it for what it is.

    As a final thought, the scene where Bond shoots the sniper out of the tree is subtly brilliant and the scene immediately following where the dogs chase down the bad girl is filmed exquisitely with a fantastically sinister score from John Barry. This film is full of nice little touches of camera work like this (Bond sees Holly in Vienna with the camera turn, boat chase sequence to name a couple more).

    This is a very good Bond film. Not top tier but very good.

    Moonraker (film) - Wikipedia


    Yes, the gondola hovercraft bit with the double-take pigeon truly is stupid
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
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  2. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    It's weird that the movie had NOTHING
    to do with the book at all.
    Most Bond movies has some connection the book.

    I guess octopussey didn't either.
    That was just a short story that is one of the longest Bond movies
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  3. Spitfire

    Spitfire Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest
    Moonraker was always one of my favorite Bond books. Like you said the book and the movie are nothing alike.
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  4. Wolfschmidt

    Wolfschmidt Active Member

    Tampa Fl
    Moonraker was the first James Bond movie I saw in a theater (age 8) so I will always have affection for it. It was a blast.

    Today I think the locations, sets, cinematography, Barry score, and effects work (except for some rear projection in the Jaws scenes) are all top notch. The money is all up on screen. It has its share of cringe-worthy moments, but they all do. Drax has some good lines, and as the OP mentioned, the scene with the dogs is a standout. Honorable mention goes to that Rio hotel room Bond stays in.
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  5. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I just watched Marvel's Black Widow over the weekend, and whenever they showed the madman who was sending his mind-controlled henchwomen all over the world to wreak havoc, I thought, "hey, it's Hugo Drax from Moonraker!" That is a horrible, horrible haaaaaaaaarible Bond film.

    I think the 1960s Bond films prove that it's possible to do a huge action-adventure spy movie and not make it too stupid and hokey and unbelievable. Something happened in the 1970s and early 1980s that sent the whole Bond thing into a death spiral, and Moonraker was a big part of it.

    I have to say: For Your Eyes Only proved to me that Roger Moore could be a decent Bond when the script and direction were good. So I think most of this is about bad creative choices made by the producers than anything else.

    BTW, lest anybody thinks I'm attacking them, I totally get that fans tend to love the films they saw as impressionable kids: my own brother loves Diamonds Are Forever, but in recent years he's grudgingly admitted it's a terrible film with a few good moments. Me, I have no problem saying, "such-and-such is a terrible film, but I love it as really cheesy entertainment." Moonraker is too off-the-scale stupid for me to put it high on any list.
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  6. Phil147

    Phil147 Forum Resident

    York UK
    When I started reading the Fleming novels I started with Dr. No as I assumed, wrongly, that this must be the first one as it was the first film. It is number 6 in the series and follows From Russia With Love and references this which I found a bit confusing. What I did quickly understand though is that the movies were going to be different from the books, although Dr. No the film does follow the novel reasonably well.
    As the films went on they very quickly started to depart from the novels but there was usually some connection to the source material, however loose. I think the one which departs the most, which I can remember, would be The Spy Who Loved Me. The novel is told in the first person from the female protagonist's point of view and Bond doesn't appear until two thirds of the way into the story. It also has absolutely nothing in common with the plot in the movie, Jaws from the movie is very loosely based on one of the villains in the novel who has steel teeth but there is nothing else in there which is taken from the book (other than Bond himself).
    So ironically what is commonly referred to as Moore's best outing as Bond has absolutely nothing to do with the original novel beyond the title, Bond himself and some dental work on a villain.
    On a side note The Spy Who Loved Me was very poorly received by the critics and Fleming was so stung by it's reception that when he sold the film rights he only gave permission to use the title of the novel and nothing else. I guess they sneaked the steel teeth in...
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  7. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    Many will rate Moonraker unfavorably, and I can understand the reasons why. However, when I saw it in the theater at release, the audience actually cheered at the end of the opening sequence when Bond falls out of the plane, as well as at the conclusion of the film. As cartoonish as it was, it delivered what audiences were looking for back then. Looking back, I think it could have been better but people were quite impressed back at the time. The producers evidently were looking to outdo The Spy Who Loved Me, which was no easy task, and mostly succeeded. In fact, I believe it was the highest grossing Bond film up until that time, not adjusted for inflation. That would not have happened if they didn't do something right.

    There were great individual scenes as well, particularly the G-force simulator and the scene already noted where Drax unleashes his attack dogs on the woman that Bond had a fling with in Drax's mansion. That was a very effective, even artful sequence as unsettling as any of the death scenes throughout the series.
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  8. matthew5

    matthew5 Forum Resident

    Does anyone else remember that the blonde girl has braces when she first smiles at Jaws?
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  9. Shoehorn with Teeth

    Shoehorn with Teeth Romans 6:23

    The Midwest
    I actually watched this movie a couple weeks ago as part of my annual Bondathon. The set pieces are impressive and it’s a lot of fun, even if some of it is pretty stupid. I think my biggest gripe is that it all feels loosely pieced together; they needed to get Bond into space but didn’t know what to do for the first 90 minutes. Some of the action is fun but ultimately it feels like a collection of action sequences instead of a unified plot.

    It’s not one of my favorites but it’s still a good time. I must admit that the double-take pigeon is so stupid but I love it. I don’t know what that says about me.:D
  10. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark But I'm innocent! Swan stole my music & framed me!

    Better than A View To A Kill, Quantum Of Solace or Die Another Day, but those aren't very high bars to clear.

    Average 007 at best.
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  11. Phil147

    Phil147 Forum Resident

    York UK
    I remember the double take pigeon getting a huge laugh in the cinema, and even some mild applause... so plenty of other people also loved it and at the time so did I. The first Bond film I remember seeing is Live and Let Die on TV, and I found that very enjoyable. The first Bond I saw in the cinema was The Spy Who Loved Me and that opening sequence had people applauding in the cinema when he ski's off the cliff and the Union Jack parachute opened. It was great stuff and great entertainment.
    At the time seeing Moonraker in a packed cinema, people clearly enjoying it and having a great time, these were family films and there were 3 generations of us watching that together and all enjoying it, there was nothing better for those couple of hours. Pure escapism.
    It's only as I got older, started reading the books, started to watch the Connery films that I became less enamoured with the Moore movies. But it's easy to look back now and scoff, back then these movies were real events and they were just a great ride.
    The biggest criticism I would have for Roger Moore is he stayed in the role too long, a mistake he readily admitted to. But the movies were very popular and that was as much to do with Moore as it was anything else. At the time the audience loved him in the role.
    I find it difficult to rank Bond movies, most of them are very much of their time and hard to compare against each different era and it's hard to be objective about them. There is too much nostalgia linked to the Moore era (up to and including For Your Eyes Only) because these were family trips to the cinema, usually when we were all on holiday together somewhere and I have very fond memories of them all.
  12. finslaw

    finslaw muzak to my ears

    This film has always been in my top 10 and recently was in my top 3. Moonraker is possibly the best shot Bond film, has some actual spy work, globe trots to some of the most spectacular places and actually has some sub-text about beauty. Jaws doing a reversal after Drax says his world will be free of undesirables is actually a great thematic moment, if only they gave his girlfriend braces, or made her less of an absolute hottie. Those who claim Moonraker was a cartoon are too hung up on pigeons, and forgetting about that creepy dog hunt. For pure escapism Moonraker trumps The Spy Who Loved Me, and certainly has better climactic action.

    Sidenote, this is one of the rare times when Bond had 4 conquests (if you count the lady on the plane) and NEVER drives a car (also YOLT.)
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  13. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    I really like the theme song. And the "Bond Girls" Lois Chiles and Corinne Clery are gorgeous. The latter's death always bugs me. Even though its off screen, having her killed by vicious dogs just seemed a bit too cruel, even for a Bond villain, It would be one thing if he did that to an agent or henchmen. It didn't make him seem like a more menacing villain to me, it just made me think the scriptwriter was cruel.
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  14. mBen989

    mBen989 Forum Resident

    Scranton, PA
    Here's what I said about this Bond film once upon a pool table.


    You know, if there's one thing Bond franchise is guilty of anything, it's bandwagoning. Think about it; You Only Live Twice took advantage of interest in Japan generated by the '64 Olympics, blacksploitation allowed Live and Let Die to get made, the kung-fu school in Golden Gun owes its existence to Bruce Lee, Octopussy was influenced by Indiana Jones, Licence to Kill takes a few cues from big dumb 80's action films and Jason Bourne has haunted the Daniel Craig films.

    What I'm getting at is the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters made Broccoli push ahead with Moonraker and I must admit its full plunge into fantasy is both ridiculous and charming at the same time. Oh, and that opening free fall is boss!
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  15. omikron

    omikron Avid contributor to Paul McCartney's bank account Thread Starter

    Lexington, KY
    I recently realized that License to Kill lifted a couple sequences from Live And Let Die and essentially has as much to do with the novel Live and Let Die as the film Live and Let Die.

    Outside of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the films have taken great liberties with the Fleming works but they each try to work in some sort of literary element.
  16. Shoehorn with Teeth

    Shoehorn with Teeth Romans 6:23

    The Midwest
    Yeah, Licence to Kill borrows quite a bit from from the LALD novel. I still wish they’d use the Garden of Death from the YOLT book. It’s so creepy and it’s a shame that we’ve never seen that climax in a Bond film. It would have fit in perfectly with the Craig era.
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  17. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    Have to laugh at the Asian Bond. Forget the name of the movie that Sean Connery plays an Asian man, but it's a rather silly one.

    I too like Bondathons….
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  18. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    That was You Only Live Twice. The premise made sense in the Fleming novel, but for the film it was just silly.
  19. keefer1970

    keefer1970 Metal, Movies, Beer!

    New Jersey
    During the 70s, the Bond series had a habit of dipping into whatever cinema trend was hot at the time (Live and Let Die came out during the early 70s "blaxploitiation" craze, and Kung-Fu/martial arts movies were all the rage during filming of Man With the Golden Gun).

    Naturally, when the Star Wars trend came along they wanted a piece of it, and Moonraker was the only Fleming title that sounded "spacey" enough to fit the bill, even though they had to come up with an entirely new story that had nothing to do with the book.

    That said...

    is silly as hell, but it's a very well made, silly-as-hell movie. I revisit it every few years and it's always fun to watch.

    It was the first 007 movie I ever saw, when it first came to HBO (circa 1980). At that time I knew nothing about James Bond, nor did I know that the movie was part of a series that stretched back almost 20 years at that point -- I was just a Star Wars crazed ten year old who would watch anything that had space ships and laser guns in it, so naturally I loved it. It's still a sentimental fave to this day.

    Side note: when I was a kid, I remember wondering why my Dad thought the character "Dr. Goodhead's" name was so funny. It wasn't till years later when I revisited the movie in my late teens, that I went "Oohhhhh....oh my God." :D
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
  20. Went to see this on release in Montreal. Huge lineup , biggest one I'd seen.
    Was it worth the wait and the hassle? I suppose. Not great but ...
    Enduring the lineup for ' Alien ' was more rewarding
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  21. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    I've always considered Moonraker to be in the bottom three ranking of all the Bond films. Not only is it a blatant attempt to cash in on the "space" theme movies being made at the time, but it truly is a ridiculous film under any circumstances. Quite cringeworthy.

    Although there seems to be some fans of The Spy Who Loved Me, I don't find it particularly notable in the Bond movie canon, though more watchable than Moonraker. It's basically a rehash of the plot used in the You Only Live Twice film, just substituting an oil tanker for a rocket, and a submarine for a space capsule, with a general plotline that is unremarkable.

    Of course, like Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me has absolutely no connection to the Fleming book. That story is very good, but probably wouldn't work too well for a typical Bond film. As I understand it, Fleming specifically requested that the SWLM story not be made into a movie.
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  22. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark But I'm innocent! Swan stole my music & framed me!

    The Moore Live & Let Die was my 1st exposure to 007s world, & I was hooked.

    By the time The Man With The Golden Gun was released I'd read several of the books, including LALD, so when the scenes involving Felix were transposed directly from the LALD novel into License To Kill I remembered them.

    And, I'd add the Craig Casino Royale to the list along with Dr No & Russia. While updated to the modern era, the basic plot hewed nicely to the novel.
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  23. omikron

    omikron Avid contributor to Paul McCartney's bank account Thread Starter

    Lexington, KY
    Up until the torture essentially. So yeah about half the book is in the film. First time in a long time for that to happen.
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  24. omikron

    omikron Avid contributor to Paul McCartney's bank account Thread Starter

    Lexington, KY
    Ironically with the new Space Force branch of the military, space battles like in Moonraker will soon be a reality.

    How prophetic!
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  25. Moonraker. Saw it in theaters and regretted it. Awful movie. Worse than the worst Connery film as Bond.
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