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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MOONRAKER! It's a movie! Yup, it shore is. 

(I prefer to call it Hercules Against the Nazis of Space. It's easier to watch if you pretend that it's an Italian sword-and-sandals picture. Your expectations aren't so high.)

Moonraker is not a good movie. It's not particularly bad, as bad movies go. It just doesn't make any sense. Now, sense is often a precious commodity in a James Bond film, but the viewer shouldn't care, distracted by explosions, gadgets, broads, improbable schemes, exotic locales and villains who seem like rejects from the Bush Administration.

But Moonraker is not only dumb (which is forgiveable (see review of Die Another Day)), it is also kinda dull. And if you don't notice how dull it is in the first or second hour, you will certainly have noticed by the fifth or sixth hour (unless you have fallen asleep or eaten your own eyeballs).

The plot is this:

Somebody steals a space shuttle that is part of the Moonraker project. Bond investigates by going to California to the Drax Corporation. It is run by Hugo Drax, who has a goatee and a sinister demeanor AND a generic European accent, so you know he is probably the villain. bond gets stuck in a doohickey that goes REALLY FAST. he gets all his clues from labels on packing crates. He meets beautiful women with suggestive names, one of whom is eaten by dogs. He goes to Venice and Rio de Janeiro and then to a Mayan-themed private resort that seems to be adjacent to Argentina. Then he goes into space and blows up the villain's space station as well as also blowing up the globes full of poisonous gas that have been fired toward the Earth where they will explode and kill all the people. (I swear to God this is what happens! The Austin Powers parody of this type of thing made more sense.)

Drax's plan was to have a space colony pf perfect physical specimens who would go back to Earth in a few generations. And all the commoners on Earth would have been killed by the poisonous gas. (I suspect the leaders of the Republican Party have a similar plan. It would explain a lot.)

They never really explain why Drax has gone to such lengths, which is just as well because the movie is way too long as it is. My brother and I had fun trying to make sense of it all. We were rationalizing like a couple of conservative talk-show hosts.

This is the second movie with Jaws, the really, really big guy with the metal teeth. He falls out of an airplane without a parachute at the beginning of the movie. Then he rides a cable car into the side of a mountain. Then he goes over a waterfall. Jaws meets his dream girl during the film. She looks like Pippi Longstocking all grown up. At the end of the film, Jaws helps Bond escape. But they don't really show how Jaws escapes the deteriorating space station in the vacuum of space. I'm not sure that Jaws didn't just wrap his girlfriend in his shirt. Then he would have jumped out the space station and floated back to Earth on the solar winds or something. it would have made as much sense as anything else in this movie.

Jaws has not appeared since Moonraker.

Thank you, God!

The conventional wisdom among Bond fans is not very nice to Moonraker. It is a definite low point for the series. I am tempted to say it is officially the worst James Bond film, but I haven't seen them all. I still haven't seen The Spy Who Loved Me, License to Kill, Tomorrow is Not Enough or The World Never Dies.

It's a shame that Moonraker is such a dud of a film. I liked the book so much. Several people suggested that I skip the movie and I kind of wish I had heeded their device.

NEXT: Diamonds Are Forever was the fourth James Bond novel. I read it and … it has its moments.

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