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Watch Moonraker (1979), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 18, 2022
Watch Moonraker (1979), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch Moonraker (1979), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie


Moonraker (1979)

James Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle, and discovers a plot to commit global genocide.

Moonraker is a 1979 spy-fi film, the eleventh in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The third and final film in the series to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, it co-stars Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Corinne Cléry, and Richard Kiel. Bond investigates the theft of a Space Shuttle, leading him to Hugo Drax, the owner of the Shuttle’s manufacturing firm.

Along with space scientist Dr. Holly Goodhead, Bond follows the trail from California to Venice, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon rainforest, and finally into outer space to prevent a plot to wipe out the world population and to recreate humanity with a master race.

The story was intended by author Ian Fleming to become a film even before he completed the novel in 1954; he based it on a screenplay manuscript he had devised earlier.

The film’s producers had originally intended to make For Your Eyes Only, but chose Moonraker owing to the rise of the science fiction genre in the wake of the Star Wars phenomenon. Budgetary issues led to the film being shot primarily in France; other locations included Italy, Brazil, Guatemala and the United States. The soundstages of Pinewood Studios in England, traditionally used for the series, were only used by the special effects team.

Moonraker had a high production cost of $34 million,[5] more than twice as much as The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and it received mixed reviews. However, the film’s visuals were praised, with Derek Meddings being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and it eventually became the highest-grossing film of the series at the time with $210.3 million worldwide, a record that stood until 1995’s GoldenEye.

This was Bernard Lee’s final outing as M. Lee was scheduled to reprise his role in For Your Eyes Only, but was admitted to hospital in November 1980, diagnosed with stomach cancer. He then died in January 1981 before any of M’s scenes could be filmed.


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Moonraker (1979) Trailer


Moonraker (1979) Reviews

“Moonraker” is the 11th installment in the most successful film series in history. It is also, of course, in the grand Bond tradition. The basic form of the James Bond thrillers has been firmly established since the beginning; they’re as predictable in style as the kabuki theater. The first shot of Bond must show him in a bizarre predicament that brings him within inches of his life. Surviving it, he must immediately be seen by a sexy girl.Then … let’s see. He’s called in by ‘M,’ flirts briefly with Miss Moneypenny, is assigned to a case that takes him to exotic foreign locations, crosses tracks with another sex symbol who turns out to be working for a rival intelligence agency, is attacked by the villain’s goons, is confronted by the villain himself (in the villain’s incredibly elaborate hideaway), and learns of the villain’s plan to achieve world mastery.(The villain’s obligatory explanation of his plan for global domination led to the definition of The Talking Killer in my Little Movie Glossary.)

The closing sequence of every Bond picture is a set piece, using incredibly expensive special effects to create a vast global control center which is then destroyed. The last shot, of course, again shows Bond with a sexy girl (preferably the rival intelligence agent). Take this formula, plug in the specifics, and you have the new Bond movie. In this case, it’s called “Moonraker,” and it’s so jammed with faraway places and science fiction special effects that Bond has to move at a trot just to make it into all the scenes.This Bond arrives in the midst of the post-“Star Wars” sci-fi boom, and was right on time. The press releases promised there had never before been a set as large as the one built to contain “Moonraker”‘s city in outer space. The space station, inspired (as they all are) by Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” is a masterpiece of art direction. One moment among many: When the station’s artificial gravity is shut off, it appears to us that 50 or 100 men are floating in free-fall in the command area. It’s hard enough to make one man appear to be floating, but “Moonraker” doesn’t spare the cash.It also doesn’t break new ground. The villain this time is named Drax, instead of, say, “Goldfinger.” Bond’s girl is named Holly Goodhead instead of, say, Pussy Galore. The locations this time are London, Los Angeles, Venice, Rio and Earth orbit instead of, say, Switzerland, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Russia and Fort Knox.

But the dialogue is exactly the same: Bond likes to “keep abreast of things,” he’s got a “leg up on the situation,” he’s got the same subtle leer and the same lascivious eyebrows he had before women’s lib. Not since Tarzan has a movie character changed so little between movies and actors.

Bond is played by Roger Moore again. Moore had grown into the role by this time, but Moore was, alas, simply not Connery. He lacked the gift of combining the comic with the sexy; he didn’t have Connery’s sophisticated smile with just a hint of a drool.To which I suppose we should say, so what? The stars of this movie are Ken Adam, the art director, and Derek Meddings, in charge of special effects. In addition to the gigantic space station, they provide lots of little touches, like 007’s gondola in Venice, which turns into a speedboat and then miraculously grows wheels. “Moonraker” is a movie by gadgeteers, for gadgeteers, about gadgeteers. Our age may be losing its faith in technology, but James Bond sure hasn’t.
  • Roger Ebert –  Roger Ebert
  • Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Moonraker (1979) Credits

Moonraker movie poster

Moonraker (1979)

Rated R

126 minutes

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Moonraker (1979) Plot

A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom is hijacked in midair while on a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The carrier is destroyed but no wreckage of the shuttle is found. M, head of MI6, assigns James Bond, Agent 007, to investigate. En route to England, Bond is attacked and pushed out of an aeroplane by the mercenary assassin Jaws.

He survives by stealing a parachute from the pilot, while Jaws lands on a trapeze net within a circus tent. At the Drax Industries spaceplane-manufacturing complex in California, Bond meets the owner of the company, Hugo Drax, and his henchman Chang. Bond also meets Dr. Holly Goodhead, an astronaut, and survives an assassination attempt while inside a centrifuge chamber. Drax’s personal pilot, Corinne Dufour, helps Bond find blueprints for a glass vial made in Venice; Drax discovers her involvement and has her killed by his pet dogs.

In Venice, Bond encounters Goodhead and observes her snooping around a door near the glass factory, then is chased through the canals by Drax’s henchmen. He returns to the factory at night to investigate and discovers a secret biological laboratory, and learns that the glass vials are to hold a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to plants and animals.

Chang attacks Bond, but Bond hurls him through the stained glass clockface of the Saint Mark’s clocktower, killing him; during the fight, Bond finds evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory; he gives it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro under the pretense of being on leave.

Bond survives attacks by Jaws, Chang’s replacement, during Rio Carnival and on the Sugarloaf Cable Car. After Jaws’ cable car crashes, he is rescued from the rubble by Dolly, a young woman, and the two fall in love. Drax’s forces capture Goodhead, but Bond escapes; he learns that the toxin comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the Amazon jungle. Bond travels the Amazon River and comes under attack from Drax’s forces, before eventually locating his base. Captured by Jaws, Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off.

Drax explains that he stole back the loaned Shuttle because another in his fleet had developed a fault during assembly. Bond and Goodhead are locked in a room under the launch platform, and narrowly escape being burned alive by the exhausts of Moonraker 5, which is carrying Drax, and pose as pilots on Moonraker 6. The shuttles dock with Drax’s space station, hidden from radar by a cloaking device.

Bond and Goodhead disable the radar jamming cloaking device; the United States sends a platoon of Marines aboard another shuttle to intercept the now-visible space station. Jaws captures Bond and Goodhead, to whom Drax reveals his plan to destroy human life by launching 50 globes that would disperse the nerve gas into Earth’s atmosphere. Drax had transported several dozen genetically perfect young men and women of varying races to the space station in the shuttles.

They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life, their descendants a “new master race”. Bond persuades Jaws to switch his allegiance by getting Drax to admit that anyone not measuring up to his physical standards, including him and Dolly, would be exterminated. Jaws attacks Drax’s guards, and a laser battle ensues between Drax’s forces and Bond, Jaws, and the Marines. Drax’s forces are defeated as the station is destroyed, while Bond shoots and ejects Drax into space.

Bond and Goodhead use Drax’s laser-armed Moonraker 5 to destroy the three launched globes and return to Earth. Jaws and Dolly, who ejected themselves in one of Drax’s escape pods, are recovered by the Marines. Bond’s superiors get a video feed of Moonraker 5 and are bemused to see Bond and Goodhead making love in zero gravity.

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Moonraker (1979) Box office

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Moonraker (1979) Critical Response

Moonraker premiered on 26 June 1979, in the Odeon Leicester Square, United Kingdom. It grossed £10.7 million in the UK.[34] Three days after the UK release, it went on general release in the US, opening in 788 theatres with 900 prints struck; it was United Artists’ widest opening at the time. It grossed $14,744,718 in its first week from 900 bookings.

On the mainland of Europe, the most common month of release was in August 1979, opening in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden between 13 and 18 August. Given that the film was produced largely in France, and it involved some notable French actors, the French premiere for the film was relatively late, released in that country on 10 October 1979.

It saw a record attendance of 413,314 in its first week in France.[37] Moonraker grossed a worldwide total of $210,300,000, making it United Artists’ highest-grossing film at the time, surpassing The Spy Who Loved Me.[37][5]

With Moonraker, we went too far in the outlandish. The audience did not believe any more and Roger spoofed too much.

Moonraker received a mixed reception by critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 59% approval rating based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 5.50/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Featuring one of the series’ more ludicrous plots but outfitted with primo gadgets and spectacular sets, Moonraker is both silly and entertaining.”[39] On Metacritic the film has a score of 66% based on reviews from 13 critics.[40]

The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby called Moonraker “one of the most buoyant Bond films of all. Almost everyone connected with the movie is in top form, even Mr. Moore. Here he’s as ageless, resourceful, and graceful as the character he inhabits.”[41] Canby subsequently said the film was, alongside Goldfinger, the best of the series.[42]

The Globe and Mail critic Jay Scott said Moonraker was second only to Goldfinger. “In the first few minutes – before the credits – it offers more thrills than most escapist movies provide in two hours.” During the title sequence, “the excitement has gone all the way up to giddy and never comes down”. Scott admired the film’s theme song and cited with approval the film’s location work. He also singled out Ken Adam’s sets, dubbing them “high-tech Piranesi”.[43]

Frank Rich of Time felt “The result is a film that is irresistibly entertaining as only truly mindless spectacle can be. Those who have held out on Bond movies over 17 years may not be convinced by Moonraker, but everyone else will be.”[44]

Reviewers such as James Berardinelli praised the visual effects and stunts,[45] and film scholar James Monaco designated the film a “minor masterpiece” and declared it the best Bond film of them all.[46]

Most critics consider Moonraker one of the lesser films in the series, largely because of the extent and absurdity of the plot which takes James Bond into space, some of the ploys used in the film for comedic effect, and its extended dialogue. In November 2006, Entertainment Weekly ranked Moonraker fourteenth among the Bond films, describing it as “by far the campiest of all 007 movies” with “one of the worst theme songs”.

IGN listed it eleventh, calling it outlandish and saying that despite the actors “trying what they can to ground the film in reality, the laser gun/space station finale pretty much undercuts their efforts”.[48] Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the fourth worst film of the series, considering that the film “just flat-out sucks”.[49]

Critic Nicholas Sylvain said “Moonraker seems to have more than its share of little flaws and annoyances which begin right from the opening pre-credit sequence. The sheer idiocy (and impossibility) of having a fully fueled shuttle on the back of the Boeing during the trans-Atlantic crossing should be evident, and later in the film, the whole Jaws-falls-in-love and becomes a ‘good guy’ routine leaves me rather cold, and provides far too much cheesy comedy moments, as does the gondola driving through the square scene.”[50]

In a review of the film from 1979, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune took a critical view of its amount of product placement, and observed:

In the beginning of the Bond series, before they were thought of as a series, each film was a good action picture with a colourful, entertaining hero.

Today, they come off as conglomerate business enterprises rather than movies. How else does one explain the intrusive commercial plugs in “Moonraker” for Christian Dior perfume, British Airways, Bollinger champagne, Glaston boats, and Seiko watches? Truly, money derived from these plugs can’t be worth the loss of story continuity when the products are flashed in front of the camera.

Someone is being awfully cheap about the plugs, which borders on incredibility because the James Bond series is one of the surest moneymakers in the film business. Maybe the producers of “Moonraker” are blind to story construction?

That certainly would explain the film’s failure.

In a review of the film from the same year, the Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, while clearly expressing his approval of the advanced special effects and Ken Adam’s extravagant production sets, criticised the pace in which the locations of the film evolved, remarking, “it’s so jammed with faraway places and science fiction special effects that Bond has to move at a trot just to make it into all the scenes”.

Christopher Null of Filmcritic.com said of the film: “Most rational observers agree that Moonraker is without a doubt the most absurd James Bond movie, definitely of the Roger Moore era and possibly of all time”.[53] However, while he criticised the extravagance of the plot and action sequences, he believed that this added to the enjoyment of the film, and particularly approved of the remark “I think he’s attempting re-entry!” by “Q” during Bond and Goodhead’s orbiting of the Earth which he described as “featuring what might be the best double entendre ever”.[53]

Reviewing Moonraker, film critic Danny Peary wrote, “The worst James Bond film to date has Roger Moore walking through the paces for his hefty paycheck and giving way to his double for a series of unimaginative action scenes and ‘humorous’ chases. There’s little suspense and the humor falls flat. Not only is Jaws so pacified by love that he becomes a good guy, but the filmmakers also have the gall to set the finale in outer space and stage a battle right out of Star Wars.”[54]

The exaggerated nature of the plot and space station sequence has seen the film parodied on numerous occasions. Of note is the Austin Powers spoof film The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) which while a parody of other James Bond films, makes reference to Moonraker by Dr. Evil’s lair in space. The scene in which Drax is shot by the cyanide dart and ousted into space is parodied by Powers’ ejection of Dr. Evil’s clone Mini-Me into outer space in the same way.[55]

Sean Connery, who had played James Bond in six of the first seven films in the series, stated in an interview that: “I went in London to see Moonraker with Roger and I think it’s departed so much from any sort of credence from the reality that we had [in my six films].” He also criticized the film for: “such a dependence on the effects and there’s no substance”.[56]

However, the opening skydiving sequence, in which Bond is pushed out of an aeroplane by Jaws, and must obtain a parachute from the pilot skydiving below him, has come to be considered one of the series best pre-title sequences.[57] It is frequently lauded by critics and fans as one of the most spectacular action sequences in the Bond series.


Moonraker (1979) Accolades

Derek Meddings, Paul Wilson and John Evans were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects,[59] and the film was nominated for three Saturn Awards, Best Science Fiction Film, Best Special Effects, and Best Supporting Actor (Richard Kiel).


Moonraker (1979) Movie Info

Agent 007 (Roger Moore) blasts into orbit in this action-packed adventure that takes him to Venice, Rio De Janeiro and outer space. When Bond investigates the hijacking of an American space shuttle, he and beautiful CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) are soon locked in a life-or-death struggle against Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), a power-mad industrialist whose horrific scheme may destroy all human life on earth!

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