James Bond: Classic, Cheese or Crap? – “Moonraker”

“Moonraker”

1979

Bond: Roger Moore

Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CHEESE

Bond wrestles a huge, fake rubber snake. He gets in a tricked out gondola in Venice that’s part amphibious landing craft. Jaws survives a fall from about 15,000 feet, and a fall from a waterfall from about 150 feet. Bond goes to space. While there, he knocks out the cloaking device on the Villain’s Space Station, and the US responds with a contingent of like, 10 Space Shuttles, each loaded with lasergun equipped spacemarine astronauts, in 3 ½ minutes. In 1976.

Sounds like cheese to me.

Listen. If any of you want to advocate for “Crap” here, I’m not going to stand in your way. At all. Certainly there’s no way to advocate for the movie as being objectively good (“Classic”), so if you don’t enjoy it as cheesetastic, it certainly is pretty crappy. Moonraker is literally god-awful. You may find yourself saying “Oh God, that’s terrible” For fans of cheese, you’ll say it with a smile on your face. For those Bond fans who prefer that Bond films always be serious spy films, this movie is their worst nightmare.

A US Space Shuttle is stolen, and as Bond inquires of the manufacturer, Drax Industries, he’s attacked. He doggedly follows a trail of evidence to locate the missing shuttle and uncover Hugo Drax’s plans, a chase which leads him around the world and eventually into space. Once there, he discovers that Drax intends to wipe out the Earth’s population with toxic gas, and repopulate it with a master race of his choosing.

Unfortunately, aside from one of the greatest PTS (pre title sequence)s in the franchise (Jaws and Bond skydiving), this movie has little to nothing to offer on a straightforward level. The centrifuge sequence? Maybe…

But I have to say. Moonraker is where the concept of “Classic, Cheese, or Crap” began. It struck me that I actually enjoyed watching it, even though I would hope and pray that if a newbie was being introduced to Bond, this wouldn’t be their point of entry.  So how could I explain that to people when I was writing it all up? I laugh when Drax is talking … his ultra droll delivery cracks me up. The projection screen technology during the fight atop the cable car sequence is some of the worst in film history. Jaws? When he sees Bond getting away as he’s about to go over the falls? That little look he gives? And then Bond with the snake! Marone!

It’s funny.

It’s funny or else its pathetic. So you choose. I mean some of this stuff is borderline intolerable even when you’re rolling with the cheese of it. The Gondola scene bugs me no matter how I look at it. So… MI6 spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a militarily equipped gondola? That could only be used in Venice? And the surprised pigeon just tops the cake. Eesh. And of course, the fact that they turned Jaws “Good” is utterly indefensible. I don’t care what kind of circumstance they built up around it for justification.

But overall, I laugh. I smile, I laugh, I enjoy. I’m not even sure that they didn’t intend it to be that way. I mean, I get the feeling at this point in the Roger Moore run, they were creating these movies with tongue in cheek. You know?

“Balls, Q?”

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30 thoughts on “James Bond: Classic, Cheese or Crap? – “Moonraker”

  1. Oh, it’s definitely Cheesetastic. It’s one of the few Moore Bond films that I can actually watch, because it is so funny. It really seems to me to be Austin Powers level of spy-satire, although maybe unintentionally. As a Bond aficionado, one must really object to it’s very existence, but it’s just too funny not to enjoy on some level.

  2. As much as I love Moonraker, it is cheese. Although I might be bias, as there might be only a few Bond films I would classify as crap. I think Moonraker has one of the best villains in Drax and one of the best Bond girls in Miss Holly Goodhead. Yeah the special effects and lasers are laughable now, but at the time, was probably state of the art. I think the overall plot was classic Bond stuff.

    This one also has some special value to me as I remember having some of the Moonraker trading cards and stickers when I was a kid. I actually bought a complete set on Ebay about 15 years ago now. Just one of those momentos that I had to have as a Bond fan.

  3. Couldn’t agree more with your review. The cheesiness is what makes this one of the best Bond movies. Plus, I love the Moonraker poster. I didn’t know it was so cool.

  4. Sigh. I understand the cheese, but I gotta vote crap. I don’t mind humor in Bond, and Moore is at his best when he plays the character with a nod-and-a-wink, but… this is just too much.

  5. Crap. Crap beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is the lowest of the low, the bottom of the barrel. Even removing how ridiculous and stupid the film is, I still can’t excuse how boring it is (and it is extremely boring). Oh, and what thy do to Jaws?!? That alone would qualify this film as crap. Drax and Goodhead are about as interesting as rocks. This isn’t just “a bad one” or “one of the worst”. This is the worst film in the series, easily.

    So I guess you could say I don’t like it.

  6. Moonraker is one of the Bond films I haven’t seen yet (which admittedly is not a short list), but it looks pretty cheesy to me. I’m sure when I watch it I’ll be able to see why some people would consider it crap, but to me, the image of James Bond striking his iconic pose in a spacesuit is as good as a sign saying “Just roll with it”.

  7. Can I get some nachos with that cheese? You must admit that in the previously released bond movies, they at least attempted to create a reasonable storyline where outrageous situations could be inserted. This seems like they came up with outrageous scenes that had to somehow fit into the storyline. I remember laughing every time they would say “Dr. Goodhead”, not because of the name, because they did it so seriously. All I could think about was how many times they must have cracked up before they got a good shot. My vote is Cheese, all the way.

    • Behold. The power of Cheese.

      I always felt like the outrageous elements of “The Spy Who Loved Me” contributed a lot here. That was such a huge success, and this was the immediate successor. So they did some good things (bringing back Jaws) but did some really bad things (like the Gondola) that were influenced by the prior film…

      Plus Star Wars was HUGE at the time, and it’s a well documented fact that they wanted to capitalize on the success of that movie with this one.

      • The desire to capitalize on Star Wars affected a lot of movies from the late 70s to the mid 80s. Though this is the only one I can think of that was part of an already-established and successful series.

  8. I agree that MoonRaker is CHEESE, and I do like it… even by today’s standards. I’m still baffled at how many girls Roger Moore managed to bang in one movie…

  9. I’m remember seeing moonraker in the movies. I thought the movie was in the “cheese” category. At the time it seemed like a good idea tying bond in
    with the space shuttle. But the special affects were cheesey and the action
    was subpar, which is not a good formula for Bond. Jaws was indestructable
    which made it seem like the only way Bond could kill him would be to shoot him,
    which would be too easy.

    • Not even sure shooting him would have done it Mike. The way they had Jaws set up, they probably would have just shown the bullets bouncing off of him or aomething!

      Maybe that’s why they needed to “turn him good”

  10. Cheesey McCheese! I think as a child I loved to watch it. Full of over the top characters and scenes. Jaws and the cable car and him finding love? Really? Bond?!

    I can’t watch it now without scoffing. Just so cheesy!

  11. Pingback: In Praise of Her Bond Groove: Shirley Bassey | It Rains… You Get Wet

    • Wellllllll… I agree that all Bonds are classic in some way, I do love and will watch any or all of them.

      But that didnt slow me down here at all… a lot of the flicks are pretty rough for non bond fans. some of them have to be called out for being crappy.

      And youre right, this one comes dangerously close. But I do laugh with it. Wrestling the rubber snake, “Balls, Q”? The Bondola. It’s all… “so bad its good” stuff.

  12. A poor attempt by the director to compete with the ‘Space Theme’ of that era with the release of Star Wars IV (1976) three years before Moonraker (1979) was released.

    One of the few Bond movies in which I actually drifted in and out throughout the entire movie.

    • Definitely was directly influenced by the success of Star Wars… and not in a good way. LOL

      I cant blame you for fading on this one, at best, its silly fun in a “So bad its good type way”… at worst, for people who wish to be critical, it’s a really bad film. Slow, with bad action, and a lame plot. Not a recipe for a gripping movie.

      Still, I love it for the cheese factor myself! :D

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