The last classic James Bond film!
Breathtaking stunts, jaw-dropping sets, and imaginative situations make
Moonraker (1979) a dazzling entry in the legendary James Bond
franchise. There is no doubt that Star Wars and Close Encounters of the
Third Kind served as an inspiration, however, this inspiration also
happened to be a very positive one that led to quite a unique product.
Quite simply, Moonraker is the gutsiest and most ambitious film in the
entire James Bond series.
I have always been a big fan of Roger Moore's classy interpretation of
James Bond in the 1970s. The four Bond films he made during that era
were all outstanding. His best was certainly The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977), but Moonraker is a very close second in my opinion. His
chemistry with Barbara Bach (my favorite Bond girl) in Spy was
outstanding and he nearly equals it here with Lois Chiles. The elegant
Lois Chiles may not have been the strongest actress, but she always
displayed intelligence and an independent spirit. She is a delight to
watch on screen. In the 1970s, the "Bond girl" began to transform into
the Bond woman, as both Barbara Bach and Lois Chiles expertly conveyed
smarts and inner strength. Gone were the days of weak, air-headed "Bond
girls," who served only as eye candy.
Also underrated here is Michael Lonsdale's performance as Hugo Drax.
His icy delivery is very effective and he plays the evil genius with a
dry humor later made popular by the great Alan Rickman. The Jaws
reprise is underrated as well. Not only is his romance refreshing to
watch, but most importantly, it also serves as a rather important plot
point as well.
While the laser effects do not work well, the rest of the special
effects are absolutely incredible without being intrusive. It is
important to mention that during this era, filmmakers still realized
the importance of characterization over explosions (a knowledge lost in
the 1980s and 1990s.) Watch how Christopher Wood's smart script is
perfectly balanced with innovative special effects. In the end, the
overall film becomes entirely plausible.
Moonraker was a major gamble that paid off and I give all of those
involved with the production a lot of credit. As was the case with many
creative ventures during the 1970s, a traditional genre was taken into
a more exploratory direction and was ultimately lifted to greater
heights. This progressive philosophy and style of film-making made
Moonraker the last truly great James Bond film. The franchise would
never get this creative or exciting again.
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