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When a U.S. space shuttle is stolen in a midair abduction, only James Bond (Agent 007) can find the evil genius responsible. The clues point to billionaire Hugo Drax, who has devised a scheme to destroy all human life on earth. As Bond races against time to stop Drax's evil plot, he joins forces with Dr. Holly Goodhead, a NASA scientist who is as beautiful as she is brilliant. And 007 needs all the help he can get, for Drax's henchman is none other than Bond's old nemesis Jaws, the indestructible steel-toothed giant. Their adventure leads them all the way to a colossal, orbiting space station, where the stage is set for an epic battle which will determine the fate of all mankind.
For more about Moonraker and the Moonraker Blu-ray release, see Moonraker Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on April 19, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Corinne Clery, Bernard Lee (I)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
» See full cast & crew
Moonraker Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Ben Williams, April 19, 2009
James Bond has seen his fair share of highs and lows over the course of his 40+ year history on screen. While many fans continue to argue over which Bond adventure is his very best, most would unanimously point to a single adventure as being the worst. Moonraker has the dubious distinction of being the most reviled of the Bond flicks. It's a late-70s exercise in cheese that shamelessly tries to tap into the Star Wars fever that was gripping filmgoers at the time. Revisiting Moonraker after so many years is an interesting and frustrating experience, made even worse by the recent successful reboot of the Bond series. Here's hoping that Bond never revisits these lows again.
When a Moonraker Space Shuttle is hijacked in mid-air, James Bond (Roger Moore) is called into action to investigate. Drax Industries, the manufacturer of the shuttle, immediately catches Bond's attention as the culprit; the company's boss, Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), does a great job of appearing nuts and thoroughly guilty. Bond will team up with CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) to stop Drax before he can act on a plan to release a deadly toxin into the Earth's atmosphere. He'll face his old nemesis Jaws (Richard Kiel), Drax's henchmen and some seriously nasty doberman pinschers, before becoming the first "00" in space. MI6, we have a problem...
No matter how hard I try, I just can't get past some of the seriously awkward moments present in Moonraker. The film is filled to the brim with pure liquid cheese, almost to the point of being a parody of itself. Moore plays Bond with his typical smarmy take on the character; he's consistent in that respect. Unfortunately, when paired with such substandard material, Moore struggles to seem heroic; instead coming across as a boorish man-child.
When I was a kid, the character "Jaws" was one of my favorite elements of the then-current Bond films. His metal teeth and huge stature made for an imposing villain that seemed to match Bond's wit and smarts with muscle and hate. He was an imposing and frightening character and remains a memorable Bond baddie. Of course, Moonraker does its best to sully the character as best as possible. Despite some terrific early skydiving scenes and a truly excellent cable-car sequence, Jaws ends up in a ridiculous space-based romantic tryst with an awkward young girl who seems seriously touched in the head. It's ludicrous, insulting and just plain dumb. I was 5 when Moonraker came out and even at that age, I felt insulted by what the film had in store for Jaws.
So, will Bond fans enjoy Moonraker? Probably not. It's just not a good movie, despite a number of decent action sequences. Even those who manage to hang with the film, will likely bail out by the time the outer space climax arrives. Moonraker remains as frustrating and poorly conceived in 2009 as it was upon its release thirty years ago. Amazingly, the film was the highest grossing Bond adventure at the box office until very recently. Go figure. Steer clear of Moonraker.
Moonraker Blu-ray, Video Quality
As the latest Bond film to receive the Lowry Digital restoration treatment, Moonraker looks better than ever on Blu-ray. The film has been duly scrubbed and cleaned; it looks fabulous. MGM has brought this restored version to Blu-ray featuring a stellar AVC Mpeg-4 transfer in full 1080p, while maintaining the film's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
Moonraker will immediately impress with its accurate flesh tones, robust color palette and smooth film-like appearance. Black levels and contrast are also well presented, if occasionally a bit on the lighter side. Detail is also noticeably improved from previous DVD versions; architectural and fabric details are satisfying, while never overly sharp. Fortunately, digital artifacts are absent from the presentation; macroblocking, ringing, edge enhancement and banding were never noticeable. Moonraker isn't quite as large an upgrade as the phenomenal Goldfinger and Thunderball restorations, but it still manages to be appealing from a visual standpoint. From a purely visual standpoint, Moonraker has never looked better and is recommended.
Moonraker Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like every other James Bond film thus released on Blu-ray, Moonraker has been given a serious overhaul in the audio department. Upgraded from the decidedly low-fi standards of its seventies-era production, Moonraker has been graced with a spruced up and modernized lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. While many of the movie's elements still suffer from less than ideal recording techniques, this lossless track offers a substantial upgrade over any previously released version of the film.
As one would expect, the many action sequences present in Moonraker represent the most noticeable improvements in the film. Fans will also note that dialogue is clearer and more easily discerned. The film benefits by being presented with a larger and more convincing soundstage, featuring an abundance of directional effects. Moonraker will never equal a more modern action soundtrack, but this Blu-ray does offer a substantial upgrade that will continue to please those who have harbored higher hopes for the film's soundtrack.
Moonraker Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
• Feature-length audio commentary with Sir Roger Moore
• Feature-length audio commentary with director Lewis Gilbert and various members of the cast and crew
• "Bond '79"
• Circus Footage
• Cable Car Alternative Storyboards
• "007 in Rio"
• Ken Adams Production Films
• "Learning to Freefall: Skydiving Test Footage"
• Skydiving Storyboards
• 007 Mission Control: An interactive guide to the film
• "Inside Moonraker"
• "The Me Behind the Mayhem"
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
For a Bond flick as uninspiring as Moonraker, the producers of this Blu-ray have done a nice job of finding entertaining supplements that are actually more enjoyable than the movie itself. Even though he's my least favorite Bond, Roger Moore does a bang-up job in his feature length commentary track and is thoroughly entertaining throughout. Several Ken Adams production featurettes are included along with a number of short, albeit entertaining, documentaries. The obligatory still gallery and theatrical trailer are also included and make for a consistent and informative reference to the film. All told, Moonraker fans will definitely get more out of this set than those who don't enjoy the film.
Moonraker Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If one's idea of entertainment involves Roger Moore attempting to kick super-villain ass in some kind of absurd Star Wars meets Airport '77 mashup, then Moonraker will thrill to no end. For just about everyone else, however, Moonraker represents the absolute low point of the Bond series. It's a terribly disappointing movie that was clearly envisioned as an opportunity to cash in on the popularity of Star Wars and the various science fiction films that had been, at the time, raking in record receipts at the box office. While the film does have its fair share of excellent action scenes, Moonraker fails miserably by offering a conclusion that is nothing short of idiotic. Don't even get me started on how they chose to retire the "Jaws" character.
Anyway, despite my concerns about the film itself, Fox has given Moonraker a fine video and audio transfer on Blu-ray. Supplements are also well rounded and consistent with the other films in the Bond collection. I've said it many times before; great audio and video quality can't save a terrible movie. Moonraker is no different. I can't recommend the film to anyone other than die-hard Bond collectors and gluttons for punishment.
Moonraker: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Moonraker (3 bundles)
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• Today on Blu-ray - March 24th - March 24, 2009
While arguably one of the most popular film series in history, some fans felt that the James Bond films had recently drifted too far from the series' explosive beginings under the helm of Sean Connery. But when 'Casino Royale' was released with fast-rising ...
• Bond Wave Two Detailed - January 20, 2009
MGM Home Entertainment in conjunction with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have announced the special features for the upcoming James Bond Blu-ray titles 'Moonraker', 'The World is Not Enough', and 'Goldfinger', which are due to hit store shelves on March 24th. ...
• Never Say Never Again Added to Bond Release List - January 20, 2009
MGM Home Entertainment in conjunction with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring 'Never Say Never Again' to Blu-ray on March 24th, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. Technical specs have yet to be announced at this time, but ...
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