Countdown to Skyfall: Moonraker (1979)

Countdown to Skyfall: Moonraker (1979)

MOONRAKER (1979)

BOND: Roger Moore

DIRECTOR: Lewis Gilbert (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me)

BOND GIRL(S): Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead)

COOL GADGETS: Wrist dart gun

THEME SONG: "Moonraker," sung by Shirley Bassey.  Yup, she's back.  This is her most forgettable tune, though I like the disco remix of the song that plays over the end credits

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

ICONIC MOMENTS: James Bond goes to space!

FUN FACTS: Lois Chiles was originally offered the role of Anya/Triple X in The Spy Who Loved Me, but she turned it down.  This was the highest grossing Bond movie until Goldeneye in 1995.

VERDICT: This transparent attempt to cash in on some of the popularity of Star Wars isn't as bad as it sounds, but it's not that good either.  The movie certainly starts strong, with a skydive fight between Bond and Jaws in mid-air.  The stunt work is amazing - this is probably my favorite pre-credits sequence so far.  Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there.  I was surprised by how little of the story actually occurs in space - it's really just the last half-hour.  Until then, we're treated to a typical globe-trotting adventure.  Jaws reappears and causes some trouble, but then he falls in love with a pig-tailed blonde and suddenly he becomes a good guy.  Lame.  Michael Lonsdale does good work as the villain, Hugo Drax, but he's dispatched way too easily in the end.  And how 'bout that ending?  It's like an episode of the SNL digital short, Laser Cats, but with slightly better production values.  There are a couple of obvious pop culture references that stick out like a sore thumb: the Close Encounters theme is used on a security keypad, and Bond wears a poncho like Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Also, this happens.  Stupid pigeon double take!

GRADE: C+

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