Moonraker

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom is hijacked in mid-air and MI6 operative, James Bond, agent 007, is assigned to investigate. En route to England in a small charter plane, Bond is attacked by the pilot and crew and pushed out of the plane by the mercenary assassin Jaws. Bond survives by stealing a parachute from the pilot, whilst Jaws lands on a circus tent.

Bond proceeds to the Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing complex where he meets the owner of the company, Hugo Drax, and henchman Chang. Bond also meets an astronaut, Dr. Holly Goodhead and survives an assassination attempt via a centrifuge chamber. Bond is later aided by Drax’s personal pilot, Corinne Dufour, as he finds blueprints for a glass vial made in Venice. Bond then foils another attempt on his life, using a hunting shotgun to shoot a sniper. Upon discovering that Dufour assisted Bond’s investigations, Drax has her killed.

Bond again encounters Goodhead in Venice where he is chased through the canals by Drax’s henchmen. He discovers a secret biological laboratory, and by accidentally poisoning the scientists there, he learns that the glass vials are to hold a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to animals. Chang attacks Bond and is killed, but during the fight, Bond finds evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. They promise to work together, but quickly dispense with the truce. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory, giving it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro under the pretence of being on leave.

In Rio, Bond meets his Brazilian contact Manuela. Drax hires Jaws to finish Chang’s job of eliminating Bond. Bond meets Goodhead at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where they are attacked by Jaws on a cable car. After Jaws’ car crashes he is rescued from the rubble by Dolly, and the two fall in love. Bond and Goodhead are captured by henchmen, but Bond escapes and reports to an MI6 base in Brazil and learns that the toxin comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the Amazon jungle. Bond travels the Amazon River looking for Drax’s research facility and again encounters Jaws and other henchmen. Bond escapes from his boat just before it hits the Iguazu Falls, and finds Drax’s base. Captured by Jaws again, Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off. Drax explains that he stole the Moonraker because another in the fleet had developed a fault during assembly. Bond is reunited with Goodhead; they escape and successfully pose as pilots on the sixth shuttle. The shuttles dock with Drax’s space station, hidden from radar by a cloaking device.

Once on board the station, Bond and Holly disable the radar jamming cloaking device, resulting in the United States sending a platoon of Marines to intercept the now-visible space station. Jaws captures Bond and Holly and brings them to Drax.

Drax plans to destroy human life by launching fifty globes containing the nerve gas into the Earth’s atmosphere. Before launching them, Drax also transported several dozen genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, to the space station. They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life; their descendants would be the seed for a “new master race”. Bond persuades Jaws and Dolly to switch their allegiance by getting Drax to admit that anyone not measuring up to his physical standards would be exterminated and Jaws attacks Drax’s guards.

A laser battle ensues both inside and outside the space station, in which Drax’s guards and his master race are all killed. During the battle, Bond shoots Drax with a cyanide-tipped dart, then pushes him into an airlock and ejects him into space.

In order to destroy the three already launched globes and return to Earth, Goodhead and Bond use Drax’s personal shuttle, while at the same time observing Jaws and Dolly escape from the disintegrating space station.

REVIEW:

As the 70s were coming to a close, it seems as if films were changing to show the influence of a little film you may have heard of, Star Wars. Moonraker features James Bond…in space. Given that Bond is a spy, going to space isn’t something that seems plausible, at least to me, but perhaps this film could offer some entertaining surprises.

What is this about?

Agent 007 blasts into orbit in this action-packed adventure that takes him to not only Venice, Italy, and Rio de Janeiro but to outer space as he investigates the hijacking of an American space shuttle by a power-mad industrialist.

What did I like?

I go to Rio. The Bond films that I’ve seen up to this point have all be showcases for great locations, but I think this one takes the cake. Ever since I got into Assassin’s Creed, I’ve been noticing how accurate the locations are. Part of this film takes place in Italy, which doesn’t seem to have changed any since the 15th century. Also, there is Rio during Carnival. The party atmosphere is captured, as well as some of the natural beauty of the country when they aren’t enjoying the festivities.

Tone. When the film began, it seems as if this was going to be a more serious film…then we get to boat chase in Venice. If you’ve ever seen a chase in pretty much any 60s sitcom, then you know there is a comedic look to them. Well, the boat chase, while exciting, has a comedic tone to it, including some Scooby-Doo-type gags with gondola drivers (or whatever they’re called). The rest of film follow through with this shift in tone from serious to over-the-top, and I was eating it up, much in the same way that I hear it does in The Spy Who Loved Me. (somehow I skipped that one in chronological order).

Musical cues. Out of nowhere, some popular scores were used throughout the film. First, there is 5 note sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is used as a lab entrance code. Quite inspired use of the theme if you ask me. Also used is “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, perhaps best known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally, and this one came out of the blue, the theme to The Magnificent Seven is used as Bond is riding up to MI6 headquarters, strangely enough looking like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. As a film and music fan, I appreciated the homages to earlier masterpieces.

What didn’t I like?

Girls. If there is one thing that James Bond has consistently been known for, it is the super hotties known as Bond Girls. For some odd reason, I didn’t find the girls in this film to be anything more than above average, at best. No, they weren’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but they just felt rather plain. The only one that was memorable was the girl in Rio, and that was only because of her exotic beauty.

Villainous wood. With a name like Hugo Drax and the prerequisite Van Dyke style of facial hair that often signifies the villain, one would imagine that this guy would be a great villain. I don’t believe any statement could be further from the truth. Of all the Bond baddies I’ve come across up to this point, this guy is the most wooden, and he is upstaged by his replacement bodyguard, Jaws, who really isn’t on screen for more than 5 minutes, tops.

Pew. Pew. One of the most made fun of tropes in movies and television is the sound and look of lasers. Well, guess who decided to have henchmen in space shooting lasers? If you said this film, then you would be correct. I can’t believe they sunk to that level, but they did, and it wasn’t done effectively, either. This didn’t even looked like they tried and was almost offensive it was so bad, but at the same time, I can appreciate the cheesiness.

How does Moonraker stack up to the rest of the Bond franchise that I’ve seen so far? It is somewhat enjoyable, but I can’t get over the fact that they “jumped the shark” and put Bond into space. Thankfully, this didn’t last long, and Bond returns to normal in the next film, from my understanding. Not surprisingly, this film was not well-received by critics and fans, but still ended up being the highest grossing of the films until the release of GoldenEye. Do I recommend this film? Yes, even though it is a bit over the top and the space stuff just doesn’t fit a character like James Bond, it is still an enjoyable film. Check it out if you get the chance!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

One Response to “Moonraker”

  1. […] OCD has been driving me crazy lately because, as it turns out, The Spy Who Loved Me preceded Moonraker, which I watched a few weeks back. I go into this film hearing some mediocre reviews, so […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: