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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Moonraker  rating

Review: written 2007

Close Encounters of the Bond Kind

moonraker

I remember seeing Moonraker when it first came out at the cinema - as a young boy, it seemed like the best Bond ever - bigger and better than all the rest.

How times have changed.

This movie starts out on a high note - literally, as Bond is thrown out of a plane without a parachute. It is a breath-taking reminder that once there was a time when for a Bond movie, this sort of spectacular unique stunt was done for real. However, then follows the theme song - one of the most turgid and uninspired of the Bond movies, and a sign of what is to follow. From a French chateau recreated in California, to Venice and on to Brazil, the movie covers ground, and actually has Bond spying and involving in skulking around - the first time he has done that in a while in the series. But the tone falters... there are some great light-hearted moments (gondola chase), and there are some significantly dark moments (the beautiful pilot Corrine gets mauled by dogs in an extended chase scene), which do not sit well next to each other. The director could have done better - Moore actually looks even more relaxed in the role than he did in The Spy Who Loved Me, and not yet too old even as he was turning 50, and Lois Chiles plays well as an initially ice cool astronaut.

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Really it does check off all the boxes for a great 70's Bond movie - the big stunt, the boat chase, the beautiful ladies, the droll monotone Michael Lonsdale playing the heavy (if only someone had given him a white Persian cat to stroke he would have been perfect...), and the return of the popular Jaws character, this time showing a softer side. Why, the whole idea of the story has been lifted from the previous film, with the bad guy seeking to destroy humanity so that a new master race can survive under the sea / in space (delete as appropriate) and repopulate.

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No, it is the last act that really trips up the movie looking back on it now - the effects have been done terrifically well, for the time, especially since they were done in-house, without the aid of an effects company. It is the whole misconceived space station and subsequent laser shoot out in space. It may have seemed terrific then, but it’s horribly dated now. It just seems to drag on too long to be exciting, much like other sci-fi movies of the time which were too impressed with their own special effects to use the editing scissors. And since when did blowing up the villain’s lair seem a good idea - when it was in space, and you were still on it?

Well, let's not be too churlish. It's a Bond movie, in the true escapist mould. It has terrific moments, and it still entertains.. for that I am willing to let it scrape through as a ‘pass’.. but be warned, for every moment that makes you cheer, there are a few moments lurking round the next plot twist to make you groan...

moonraker




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