Sunday, July 15, 2007

Moonraker aims for the stars and ends up somewhere around your anus. It's a dire Bond film; a Bond film lacking in plot, excitement and interesting characters. Everything feels tired and half-baked – it's the Bond franchise running on empty.

Rather predictably for a Moore Bond film, our first glimpse of our hero sees him copping off with some floozy. All is well in Bond-land, you think. But after a couple of amusing double entendres, and an enjoyable action scene that sees Bond steal some hapless lackey's parachute, we're confronted with what's in store, namely lots of lousy attempts at humour. In this case we have Jaws tear the rip cord from his parachute and then fall into a circus tent – it makes you groan to see the worst excesses of The Spy Who Loved Me (Jaws being impervious to any type of accident or injury) played for comedic effect instead of dramatic effect. No longer is Jaws a credible threat – he's a lovable buffoon.

Which brings me to Jaws falling in love. I know Jaws was a victim of his own success and as such could no longer really remain a villain, but his romantic scenes are entirely out of place in a Bond film. They make you yearn for the good old days when Sean Connery would slap women on the arse and tell them to fuck off while he had a serious chat with one of his colleagues.

But Jaws' more 'serious' scenes don't fare much better either. Something that immediately springs to mind is the cable car fight. What should ordinarily be an edge of the seat encounter is rendered unintentionally laughable by the way Jaws jumps from car to car (he doesn't so much jump as float upwards) and the way the fisticuffs turn into a weird variation of a wrestling scaffold match – both men are so high up and have so little room to manoeuvre that they simply grab hold of each other and pretend to scrap while they try not to plummet to their bloody deaths; the scene has no drama. Plus, even though it's a Bond film, I can't help but wonder why Jaws doesn't pull up alongside Bond, and rather than jump from one car to the other, just pull a gun out and shoot him in the face (this film would drive Scott Evil crazy).

But this film must score pretty high in the number of ridiculously convoluted attempts to kill Bond stakes. First of all you've got the pre-titles sequence and then you've got scene in the centrifuge. Yeah, let's spin him to death! Then after that there's a hunting scene. Drax, the head villain, gets Bond to try and shoot some pheasants while a lackey hides in the trees with a rifle. Of course, the underling gets shot, but after disarming our hero, rather than give up and blow him away himself (he's carrying a gun for fuck's sake), he lets him go! But the film hasn't finished yet. Later on Drax tries to crush Bond to death with a snake. This doesn't work, but Drax is nothing if not persistent. After telling Bond all his plans, rather than cave his head in, or gut him, or toast him with a flame thrower, or shoot a rocket propelled grenade at his face, he tries to fry him with the boosters on one of his shuttles. Needless to say this requires Drax to leave Bond unsupervised and allow him to figure out a cunning escape. 'Just shoot him' you end up screaming at the screen! Yes, every Bond film relies on ridiculous escapes, but Moonraker takes it to extremes.

However, I think Drax's thinking is impaired, mainly because he always has the horn. You don't believe me? Just remember his evil plan – he wants to kill every human being so that he can repopulate it as a bearded Nazi overlord. And what's he going to do in the meantime when everyone on Earth is dead and he's stuck on his galactic stud farm? He's going to be abusing himself rotten and possibly making dirty movies while watching his 'perfect' specimens go at it – he like a cross between Adolf Hitler and Max Hardcore; he's so appalled at his hideous physical state that he has to have our wonderful planet populated entirely by Penthouse models (his space station should have a sign on it reading 'No Munters Allowed').

Speaking of the horn, I can't say that Bond is much better in this film. Not only does his appearance feature him getting off, but he nails some naïve French chick a couple of minutes after meeting her (her name is Corinne Dufour – Duphwoar perhaps?), bangs a Brazilian agent a whole two seconds after their first exchange (a case of meeting and then meating) and has zero G relations with Holly Goodhead (it may be a lousy Bond film, and she may be a lousy Bond girl, but what a fabulous name). Rog just can't keep it zipped. (Phallic symbol alert: watch the binoculars when Bond spots Goodhead looking at the runway in Rio – the way the long piece of steel pops up is obscene; Rog is cocked and ready to go.)

But while the sex provides a couple of laughs, some other scenes do nothing but dismay. The most hideous example is the action scene where a gondola turns into a hovercraft. It's one of the most absurd, poorly thought out, out of place moments in any Bond film, and it's not helped by some of the inserts – the double-taking pigeon made me cringe. It's the suave, deadly superspy as a camp laughing stock. And did I mention that Bond wears a poncho in this film? Or that zero G is simulated by everyone moving very s-l-o-w-l-y? And the less said about the final space battle the better. My oh my, what a wretched film…

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