007 Bond Binge: Moonraker Takes Bond to Space
Bond's credits always promise "James Bond will return," and most films promise the next movie in the series. The Spy Who Loved Me promised Bond would return in For Your Eyes Only, but after Star Wars rocked the box office and pop culture in general in 1977, producers looked at it and said, "We gotta get us one of those." So shelving For Your Eyes Only, they rush Moonraker into production, promising Bond will go into space. Unfortunately, most of the movie is a lot of build-up and wondering when they're going to get to the fireworks factory. And then when they do, it's just so terrible.
The movie actually starts with one of the Moore era's coolest stunts, as Bond jumps out of an airplane without a parachute, beating up bad guys and stealing a chute on the way down, only to confront returning baddie Jaws (Richard Kiel). Jaws then returns throughout the movie, this unstoppable force, a slasher movie villain before the slasher trope is even invented until inexplicably he does a heel-to-face turn in the third act after falling in love in space. It's one of the more ridiculous parts of the third act in space, and that's saying a lot.
At least the film has a memorable villain in Hugo Drax, a wealthy industrialist who is building space shuttles for the US government. Basically, he's Elon Musk. Also? He secretly wants to start a new eugenicist society in space. (So, as I said, he's Elon Musk.) Unbeknownst to everyone, he has created a space station above the earth and wants to hijack his space shuttles to take his handpicked people to space with him. (Of course, almost all of these people are white. Funny how these eugenicists always seem to do that, huh? Funny. Weird.)
The final act in space is absolutely ridiculous. The effects are terrible, the stakes never actually feel real (this is usually a case with Bond films, but at least it's fun to watch 007 get out of the traps they're caught in), and it's just an unsatisfying end all around.
For a film centered around Bond going to space, they also take their sweet time getting there, globe-hopping from California to Venice to Rio de Janeiro. Along the way, the movie never treads any new ground, and the Bond franchise slides its way back into campy territory, where it will spend most of the next decade. Moonraker, you're killing me.
The 007 Bond Binge will return with For Your Eyes Only.
For previous articles in this series, check out the articles below:
- Dr. No
- From Russia With Love
- You Only Live Twice
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service
- Diamonds Are Forever
- Live and Let Die
- The Man with the Golden Gun
- The Spy Who Loved Me