Ewan Gleadow

Review: Moonraker 40th Anniversary

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Copyright: United Artists

The waning years of the 70s Bond entries provided much more light hearted pieces for the series, many of them helmed by Roger Moore. Moore’s outputs in the series are undeniably weaker as they go on, never quite living up to the success of Live and Let Die. As he trundled on as the ageing Bond figurehead, Moonraker brings us one of the worst outputs in an already weak iteration of the franchise. Building on the premise of “what if James Bond fought Russians… but in space”, Moonraker toils in its B-Movie likeness and becomes one of the dumbest movies available.  

Moore brings us a resoundingly boring Bond romp when he is tasked with stopping the Russians from doing whatever the Russians are doing. Every Bond film at this time was about bashing the Russians, they could’ve been trying to blow up the moon or open a retail outlet in St. Petersburg. Whatever it is they’re doing it’s a breach of the peace, and it’s up to Bond to shoot/have sex with/stab/explode whatever stands in his way.  

Possibly the greatest problem of all with this era of Bond is that Moore never really convinced me he could carry the serious weight of the series with the appealing one liners that were well suited in further iterations. Connery was the perfect blend, a suave and sophisticated individual that would always be a clear hero; he’d be the one on top at the end of the film. Moore on the other hand is more of a caricature than anything else. He’d be more suited to that of the Carry-On film series. Still as sophisticated and charming as his predecessors, but with the added edge of not being able to keep a straight face when delivering the one linersThose one liners turn from gold dust into garbage when the camera leans on the twinkly eyed Moore for a moment too long. 

With the direction of Lewis Gilbert under the spotlight, it’s truly surprising to see him falter so much. After his great work with Educating Rita and his mediocre efforts with previous Bond instalments, I’m perplexed at the fact that I am surprised he couldn’t give us a great Bond iteration after giving us nothing but bad Bond films. You Only Live Twice is iconic just for its ill ageing jokes and racial stereotypes, while The Spy Who Loved Me is just Moonraker but without the space combat. At least both of the Moore iterations have Jaws in them, that’s always a positive.  

Ingredients. That’s exactly what Moonraker is. There are some superb concepts and lines scattered throughout in absolute dismay, with no real reason to be in the order they’re in. With ingredients, the key is to put them together, but Moonraker painstakingly preps and eats its ingredients one at a time, and then has the balls to call itself a fully-fledged sandwich by the end of its bizarrely long running time. There’s no sustenance to be had with this film.  

Everyone has their favourite Bond (mine is Pierce Brosnan for obvious reasons), and a fair few people regard Roger Moore as their top pick. I thought I’d understood why when I’d watched through The Man with the Golden Gun and Live and Let Die. But those few individuals that regard Moonraker as one of the better Bond films need a severe reality check. It’s an awful display of the bawdy style of comedy the post-Connery generation of Bond adapted, and it killed off any severe seriousness the series could offer. A frankly loose and far-fetched film and a concept that would be fine if it weren’t so overwhelmingly boring.