July 24, 2021

Moonraker, when Star Wars rhymes with nanar

James Bond has had its ups and downs. Come Moonraker, often considered the 007 nanar under Star Wars influence, but does he deserve so much hate?

October 6, 2021 will be released in theaters To die can wait, promised sworn. But since it is a long time away and Ecran Large can no longer chomp on its brakes, its steering wheel and its clutch, we decided to watch all the James Bonds, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.

It’s neat, but suddenly you also have to get away from the Roger Moore period. It’s the rule of the game, you have to know how to explore the firmament as well as the depths, so hold your hearts, here Moonraker, one of the most absurd entries of the saga … but which nevertheless hides a good surprise. Let’s go scrape the dark side of this Moon.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?

While the British had to secure the transport of the American space shuttle Moonraker, they are stealing it, which is frankly the hchouma. Neither one nor two, MI6 reminds James Bond of his current mission, which suits him well because there is no pilot, but a Shark in his plane. He jumps without a parachute and delivers one of the best stunts in all of James Bond (and which is reminiscent of a certain Mission : Impossible – Fallout).

James Bond traces this disappearance to the very constructor of the Moonraker shuttle: Elon Musk Hugo Drax, refined billionaire, but skittish obsessed with France (he owns the Eiffel Tower) and the conquest of space. James also follows the trail of his secretary Corinne Dufour who teaches him, after a bit of butt-pulling, that Drax could have self-stolen his shuttle and could hatch a cunning plot. That’s probably true, since Drax attempts to take Bond down twice without success. For the trouble, he has Corinne devoured by his dogs.

photo, MoonrakerUh … Clovis Cornillac?

The investigation takes Bond to Venice where he discovers, after a gondola car chase, a secret factory in which Drax develops an ultra-lethal gas. He is attacked with a wooden saber (?) By Chat, Drax’s henchman, but he kills him. He is now tracing the trail of Dr. Holly Goodhead, a CIA agent undercover at Drax and pulling buttocks. Then they go their separate ways, and James learns that gas is being extracted from an extremely rare orchid that only grows in the Amazon. Head for Rio. Meanwhile, Drax no longer having Chat, he hires Shark and finds himself within a henchman or two of opening a pet store.

After a little samba in the streets of Rio (and in the track of his female guide), James Bond finds Holly, but she is immediately captured after an impressive failed assassination attempt on Shark (who finds love in the process). James goes up the Amazon (we’re talking about a river this time) and finds Drax’s base in the heart of the jungle. He explains to him that he intends to eradicate almost all of humanity and create a new perfect civilization … in space. They will come down later to reign like gods on a flourishing Earth (yes because, in fact, its gas only kills humans, not plants or animals).

Drax flies into space and begins to drop his poison gas capsules from his secret space base, but Bond and Holly pursue him. They manage to deactivate its radar jammer as well as its “laser beam”, which allows the US military to send its space marines to assault the base, because yes, they have that just in case apparently. Then engages a laser battle (yes yes) in the cosmic void. The good guys win thanks to Bond, Holly and Shark, who turned his jacket over because Drax’s Perfect Civilization is a bit Nazi and therefore not very open to unconventional physics. Drax is kicked out into space, Requin and his girlfriend drink champagne in space, Holly and James have sex in space in front of all of MI6, END in space.

photoWhat’s going on in space, as Jul would say

WHY IT REALLY NOT THE WORST JAMES BOND

Just because, before the film breaks her panties and embraces a form of absurdity close to the cheerful nanar, Moonraker is a very good James Bond, especially the first half. Building on the success of The spy who loved me and with a few financial tricks, the producers here have the means to pursue their ambitions, both good and delusional, to the end. If the overall breakdown leaves something to be desired, Moonraker However, regularly surprises with the scale and beauty of its numerous and massive decorations signed Ken Adam, a legend of the trade and who for the occasion beats the record for the largest decoration ever built in France.

With in addition a good package put in the special effects, Moonraker changes and impresses the retina. Say what we like about space travel, stupid gadgets or costumes from Drax’s marine spaces, this James Bond adventure fully exploits the increase in its budget which allows many successful designs and stunts. The space base is obviously the highlight of the show, but we could speak before that of the centrifuge, or even the interior at night of the Clock Tower in Venice.

photoWell, the choreography sucks, but admit, it’s pretty

If the show is regularly at the rendezvous, it is also served on a beautiful rhythmic plate, since apart from a few air pockets here and there and a horribly soft final shootout, Moonraker holds his viewer in suspense and even offers some real moments of buttocks tightening. We obviously think of the opening free fall fight, the centrifuge again, the fight against Shark on the Rio cable cars, or even the ultimate adventure of Bond and Holly in space. They are launched there in pursuit of the deadly capsules already dropped by Drax in a shuttle overheated by entering the atmosphere and threatening to cook our two heroes.

In terms of writing and characters, if James Bond has seen better before and after, the saga has also seen much worse. Admittedly, the villain plot is the same as usual, but the obsequious and haughty interpretation of Michael Lonsdale takes this Hugo Drax far beyond the specifications of the classic villain. Certainly, Holly Goodhead is not a summit of feminism by far, nevertheless she imposes a lot, stands up, fights and overall, she appears as a very largely improved version of Agent XXX of The spy who loved me. James Bond himself sees his invulnerability reduced and is made less pathetic in his zero charm numbers.

In short, Moonraker, it’s nonsense, but it’s nice.

photo, Richard KielSomething to smile about

WHY IS IT WHEN even a hell of a crack

Because the converse of the above maxim is also really: Moonraker, it’s nice, but it’s rubbish. Admittedly, the saga had already offered some ideas as kitsch as they were crazy (at random, the spatial laser beam – already – in Diamonds are forever), but grotesque extravagance is a first, as is crass opportunism.

We certainly do not reach the level of a certain Die another day, but still: the Franciscan monks who do kung fu, the base hidden in space, the laser guns, the gondola that transforms into a car, the knife thrower stashed in the coffin in Dracula position … it’s a lot.

photoCutlery coffin, please. We would have taken a gun, but hey.

Richard Maibaum, a screenwriter who has accompanied James Bond since the first film, said:

“With Moonraker, we have gone too far into the exotic. The public no longer believed in it and Roger Moore was boasting too much.”

And it’s not Austin Powers – The Spy Who Shot Me who will say the opposite, as the film multiplies the direct references to this particular opus. Sean Connery himself claims right out of the film that Moonraker has lost touch with reality and that the saga no longer has substance. Difficult, again, to find fault. When we see the monstrous gap between the plot of Moonraker the film and Moonraker the book, there is something to be deeply distraught and worried about for the future (and the worst is yet to come).

photoAre you sure it’s in the book?

How a suave spy book (where James takes a rake!) And an incredible bit of a Nazi hunt who got his hands on ballistic technology could have produced a film with a laser space battle around an orchid transformed into a weapon organic ? Admittedly, the book ends with an atomic explosion, but all the same, the plausibility is not badly handled at this point. The answer is probably in the air.

Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978 (very roughly referenced in Moonraker), Alien, the eighth passenger in 1979, Star Trek: The Movie in 1979 … since the release of a certain Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1977, everyone is going to get their dollars in space, become a mind-numbing selling point here (see the poster again). So, why not James Bond? After all, he needs to rejuvenate his image and will therefore happily pump the interior decors of the Dark Star for his own space base. Take a look, it’s obvious.

photoStar Wars, but with little foam figures

Obviously, if this allows James Bond to boost his visual ambitions, it also pushes him towards a form of vertiginous ridicule by dint of trying to forcibly arrogate to himself these new codes of “cool”. It is certainly not the BDSM of Planet of the Vampires, but the spacesuits of Drax’s followers – Flash Gordon garbage collectors for men, Fruits basket perverse and without bra for girls – are an example of this disorientation. The same goes for the passages where the actors “play” the absence of gravity, swaying their steps and weighing down their gestures as in a Turkish Star Wars suede, to cry with laughter.

We will spare you the sexual humor or jokes that are always so low on the forehead – the lustful old man’s sketches with General Gogol – and the absurd redemptive bow for Requin, the recycling (again) of former actresses from erotic films, the rubbish gadgets and the bland song … the cup is already full.

photoOuch ouch ouch these outfits …

THE BUSINESS BOND

The critics of the time are very lukewarm – and begin to complain about the many placements of parasitic products -, no one takes James Bond seriously anymore, but yet: Moonraker is a crisp accounting success, with a worldwide box office at $ 210 million, six times more than the $ 34 million in production costs. It was the biggest box office in 1979, ahead of Alien, the eighth passenger, Rocky II or Apocalypse Now.

However, there is reason to wonder if it really lives up to the expectations placed in the film. : the previous opus had indeed been much more profitable: 185 million dollars for 13 million production costs, more than fourteen times less. Not enough to give producers a cold sweat, but enough to start questioning the strategy adopted.

In France, even though it is a local co-production (cocorico), the film attracts 3.1 million viewers, less than the previous opus, despite the presence of Clovis Cornillac with a goat Michael Lonsdale.

photoYum dollars

A WORSHIP SCENE

For the best, the film’s first big stunt: James Bond, pushed from a plane without a parachute, catches up with another parachutist, fights with him, steals his backpack, is caught by Shark, fights with him, then escapes by opening his parachute … all filmed in real conditions and without a studio (except for close-ups, don’t overdo it). Tom Cruise didn’t invent anything. Too bad, it ends with a terrible gag.

For the worst, the moment Star Wars of the poor: the laser battle, and its atrocious sound design.

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