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James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – Moonraker

Genre: , ,

Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Corinne Clery

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Rated: PG

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: December 12th, 2006
Click to Buy on DVD or Bluray!
Overall Grade: C

James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – Moonraker

Review By: Rocco Passafuime


As the 1970's soon drew to a close, the James Bond franchise seemed to get back on track. By 1977, it had become more popular than ever before with the mega-hit The Spy Who Loved Me.

With George Lucas's space adventure Star Wars making science-fiction enormously popular again that very same year, producer Albert R. Broccoli decided to make his next 007 film his biggest and most outlandish ever. The end result of this would be Moonraker, now available on DVD.

When a space shuttle known as the Moonraker has gone missing, secret agent 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to investigate. He goes to California to probe the space shuttle's maker Drax Industries.

While there, he visits a large mansion where he meets the company's owner, an eccentric billionaire named Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale). After successfully seducing Drax assistant Corrine DuFor (Corinne Clery), Bond uncovers blueprints for a glass vial in Drax's study, compelling the secret agent to travel to Venice to further investigate his discovery.

There, he encounters Drax-employed aeronautical scientist Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), who he soon learns is actually an undercover CIA agent, also investigating Drax. He also discovers a laboratory where the vials are stored, containing a powerful nerve gas that kills human beings.

However, when Bond reaches his superiors on this information, Drax manages to cover up the evidence. However, able to obtain a vial, he is ordered to go to Rio de Janeiro to further investigate under the premise of a "two weeks leave" vacation.

In Rio, he and Dr. Goodhead team up and encounter the bizarre steel-jawed Jaws (Richard Kiel), who now is a hired assassin for Drax. As they evade Jaws and infiltrate the billionaire's secret base, the two discover that the Moonraker is part of an elaborate scheme devised by Drax to re-populate Earth with a so-called "perfect race" of human species, culminating in an outer space battle to save the planet.

Moonraker is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre and outlandish entries in the James Bond series. The Spy Who Loved Me screenwriter Christopher Wood almost completely transforms Ian Fleming's original novel, recycling the more outlandish plot elements of the previous 007 film.

The outlandish plot actually manages to work better here than it did in The Spy Who Loved Me. However, much of the story seems unfocused, with scenes running on too long and little development occurring besides rather peculiar action scenes.

Roger Moore, having finally managed to create his own distinctive Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me, continues to be in great form here and Michael Lonsdale is perfectly cast as the subtly wicked Drax. While Lois Chiles and Corinne Clery are not particularly distinct or memorable Bond girls, they manage to give the character archetypes some modern freshness.

While Richard Kiel's Jaws was one of the best elements of The Spy Who Loved Me, here the character serves

absolutely no purpose, particularly during an incredibly ridiculous scene where he meets his would-be soulmate. His presence here, along with the rather heavily Star Wars-derived space battles at the climax, end up stretching Bond camp to the heights of pure farce. What prevents much of the film from being disastrous, however, is the stunning production design here by Ken Adam, as well as the very deliberate silliness employed in this entry, which keeps an oddity like this more enjoyable.

The DVD's picture quality is in the 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound quality in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. The special features on the first disc of this DVD release are two audio commentary tracks.

The first audio commentary track features director Lewis Gilbert, screenwriter Christopher Wood, and executive producer Michael G. Wilson. The three of them manage to provide engaging, as well as highly-detailed and informative, commentary that goes into how the film was conceived and produced.

The second audio commentary track features actor Roger Moore. While his presence here is a bit scant and on the drowsy side, Moore does offer plenty of charismatic and witty recollections on his experience filming the movie.

Moonraker is as far from Ian Fleming's literary roots of 007 as you could possibly get and the thin and outlandish story is often wallowed in the sheer excesses of director Lewis Gilbert's lavish production. However, the team wisely manages to keep even a ridiculous entry like this one enjoyable due to its deliberately light and campy tone.

Movie Grade:
DVD Features Grade: B-
Overall Grade: C

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