When Fleming wrote Moonraker in 1955, the premise was about Bond pitting his wits against Sir Hugo Drax and to stop him from launching a rocket aimed at the United Kingdom.
For a story primarily based in the UK, Cubby Broccoli felt it wasn’t epic enough to adapt fully from book to screen. So the rocket, dubbed Moonraker became a space shuttle, leading the ‘Adam and Eve’, the perfect specimens to start a new world order, while Drax blows planet Earth out of the solar system.
There are some things I love about Moonraker. I love Shirley Bassey’s theme song. It’s simply beautiful and dream-like. It’s like the perfect Sunday afternoon track you can relax to because Bassey’s voice is very much toned down unlike her performance for Goldfinger which epitomises and became the standard for every Bond song attached to a film. John Barry once again delivers the perfect tone for an epic, out of this world adventure. I love Ken Adam’s production design on Drax’s space station. I love the visual/practical effects where everyone floats around to simulate zero gravity and then culminates into a huge laser battle in space. But my favourite love is Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax, the main villain. He had some the best lines throughout the whole film –
“Mr. Bond, you persist in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you.”
“Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.”
“Allow me to introduce you to the airlock chamber. Observe, Mr. Bond, your route from this world to the next. And you Dr. Goodhead; your desire to become America’s first woman in space will shortly be fulfilled.”
It’s not only his ability to deliver the lines, but it is also his screen presence. He doesn’t feel like your stereotypical villain. He rarely loses his calm, yet with authority has command over his group. He also has a great rapport with Roger Moore’s Bond that it becomes a tit-for-tat word play between them.
So if I enjoyed all that…why is it ranked low?
Bond in space – that is all.
As mentioned in my Octopussy review, Moonraker seemed to compete with Star Wars, which it didn’t need to. If this wasn’t a Bond film, then I may understand and appreciate it more. But sadly it is not the case.
But criminally, the fact Bond fights a space battle out of our solar system makes Bond lose touch with what makes Bond, Bond. How can he be saving the world if he is not even on the planet?! I’m just glad he didn’t encounter aliens…
The gadgets, such as the remote powered hovercraft gondola driving around the streets of Venice are just over the top. Even though the gadgets adds to Bond’s persona as a spy, because they are so outlandish (and memorable), it begins to look stupid and makes Bond over-reliant on his toys rather than his wit/charm/ego/duty to get out of a situation.
I don’t hate this film but it stops becoming a Bond film once Bond enters space.
Still, at least Q got a great line –
“I think he’s attempting re-entry sir!”
The Countdown So Far:
- #23 – Die Another Day
- #22 – Diamonds Are Forever
- #21 – Octopussy
- #20 – The Man With The Golden Gun
Check back next week Wednesday to find out which Bond film comes in at #18.