Monday, September 17, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "Moonraker" (1979)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

Coming into this “rewatch” there were two Bonds that I had never seen. This was the first of those two. I still don’t know exactly what I watched! In all of its parts it was a Bond film, but I am not sure that all of those diverse parts belong together. This may be the most disjointed James Bond film. It doesn’t suffer from the unglamorous, un-cinematic curse of the early 70s entries, but unlike those entries it has no story to tell. It is more like a series of conceptual scenes and action setpieces strung together at random. By the end of the film, one has a hard time remembering all the things that have happened because they share no connecting thread.

Here Bond is as reactionary as ever. He doesn’t engage in any detective work (he never has) but here his enemies seem to know that and make him look downright foolish as they constantly stay one step ahead of him. They also know how to manipulate him and he falls for it completely. There is a particularly (unintentionally) humorous moment where Bond is seeking out the villain’s rainforest hideout. He encounters armed men in boats, but his tech is better than theirs. He escapes in typical, dramatic fashion when he comes across a waterfall. However, all of that was simply designed to flush him into a trap. All it takes is a scantily clad woman, completely out of place by the way, and Bond walks unquestioningly and willingly into their clutches.

Most of this film is simply pathetic. From the yet-again-we’re-not-sexist-female-spy who is not nearly as poised or capable as Bond, to the ridiculous fleet of space shuttles (was their even a global GDP large enough to produce that back then?) bent on recycling the villain’s scheme from the last film. Even brainless viewing can’t enjoy this one.

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