Moonraker (1979)
Directed by Lewis Gilbert

Moonraker seems like someone took two separate films and, with an improbably cartoon-like crushing motion, managed to somehow fuse them into one with their bare hands. One of the two films is a weirdo James Bond adventure that is struggling to be hip in the late 70s sci-fi world of Star Wars>Close Encounters>Battlestar Galactica; the other is an amorphous travelogue romance that combines the inappropriately postcard-pretty visual panache of a Russ Meyer movie with the casually arbitrary globe-hopping sleaze of the Emanuelle series.

The mood and even visual approach changes jarringly from scene to scene, and the whole thing is held together with perhaps the laziest cookie-cutter structure of any Bond film, with easily the most intentional camp value.

So of course, it is fantastic. For awhile I was wavering on who my favorite Bond was, but after seeing Moonraker again I see that it could be no other than Roger Moore. Sure, Connery is more legitimately sexy and starred in these movies when they were actually (as opposed to ironically) cool. But come on, how can you beat the pure smarm value inherent in Moore's obvious "just here to collect a paycheck" approach? And then there is the fact that during Moore's tenure the Bond series got increasingly preposterous, and that's such a beautiful thing.

And so, from Rio to Rome, and literally into outer space, we follow James Bond on a totally contrived mission to foil supervillain Hugo Drax, who is, of course, out to destroy the world and create his own master race on a secret space station. Bond gets to wrestle a very fake looking python, ride in a gravity simulation machine, and match wits and private parts with the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Holly Goodhead.

Toss in a grumbling kung-fu henchman, some paint-by-numbers gadgetry, and totally transparent "got to put in something for the teen market" laser effects, and you've got a real winner.

Rarely outside of "Benny Hill" has the fast-motion camera effect been utilized for more comic effect, (intentional and otherwise). Richard Kiel gives the film's most endearing performance as giant metal mouth Jaws, who, in one of the most baffling deus ex machina sequences ever thrown into a movie, gets a girlfriend. (!)

Plenty of sexual innuendo, fighting, and general hijinks abound. The DVD had tons of extra offerings, none of which I cared to explore. I was content just reveling in this movie's utter contempt for its audience, and recalling the days when the Space Shuttle was supposed to be cool or something.

Review by Gisselle Guevara