Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday Is Bond Day #11: Moonraker

Bond Day fell on a Monday this week, since that's when Moonraker arrived in the mail from Netflix. The boys had a good day at school -- if it's been a bad day, all electronic devices are disallowed -- so we settled in to watch the very obviously post-Star Wars part of the Bond canon.

It was a crowd-pleaser in that room, but I'll tentatively say -- before seeing For Your Eyes Only next week -- that this is where the Roger Moore Bonds teetered over into self-parody. As I noted briefly in the last entry, Moonraker is one part Star Wars and one part photocopy of Spy Who Loved Me: space battles, a tough competitive female agent as the Bond Girl, a world-destroying villain with a secret lair to top the last one, and so on. In fact, the only obvious thing for a big 1979 action movie that it doesn't have is a monorail in the villain's lair. (I explained my theory of villain monorails to the boys when we saw You Only Live Twice -- which has the platonic idea of a lair, with not only a monorail, but a volcano, space-launch capacity, and Blofeld -- and Thing 2 has joined me in my love of all things monorailian.)

Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax is a surprisingly good villain, and Lois Chiles is a decent Bond Girl even working under the snicker-inducing name "Dr. Holly Goodhead." But this movie really belongs to Richard Kiel's Jaws, who was brought back from Spy either as part of the general transplantation or because of his popularity. Either way, Moonraker almost turns into his story, and he not only gets a girl, but also gets his own face turn near the end and a happy ending. Speaking of happy endings, Moonraker exactly matches Spy's ending as well, making this viewer wonder when, precisely, cheap Xerox machines reached the offices of United Artists.

Watching Moonraker soon after Spy inevitably diminishes it, as does watching it with any solid knowledge of physics. (The "zero-gee" space scenes are particularly painful, or laughable, depending on your tolerance for such things.) This is where the Moore Bonds lost their tenuous attachment to consensus reality and started floating away into their own realm, which was fine as long as Moore could sustain them. He still could, this time. Next up is For Your Eyes Only, and we'll see how he did there.

And I'll end with a question for the audience: how far into the series should we watch, myself and my two sons (aged 8 and 11)? I'm committed to running through the last Moore, A View to a Kill, and I'm tentatively planning on including Never Say Never Again (the tepid return of Connery in an unofficial film) and The Living Daylights (the first Timothy Dalton, in a script only mildly changed for him). I'm pretty definite that we'll miss License to Kill, the bloody and depressing second Dalton film, but I'm unsure whether to queue up any of the Pierce Brosnan movies. Any opinions on their suitability for two boys who will have seen all of the Connery and Moore films by then?

5 comments:

The Brillig Blogger said...

For Your Eyes Only which I discuss at http://brilligblogger.blogspot.com/2009/02/name-is-bilmes.html couldn't be more different from the two movies that preceded it. Dad will be pleasantly surprised, but the younger Wheelers may not appreciate. I didn't when it first opened.

A View to a Kill is awful, but Octopussy comes first!!!

And of the later Bond movies, I think Die Another Day was the best of the Brosnan movies. I don't know if you should see all of them, but that one I really like.

Nadine said...

A View to a Kill might bore them rigid-the beginning is cool, but it does bog down. A friend watched with her oldest son, and he grew v. bored pretty quickly and asked for something else.

Suzan Harden said...

I have to agree with banning License to Kill until the Things are a little older, as well as the two Daniel Craig movies. (Don't get me wrong, Casino Royale IS the best Bond movie. The script captures the spirit of the books perfectly, IMHO.)

But if you've already let the Things watch Connery, then I doubt there would be any harm in letting them watch the Brosnan movies.

Eloise said...

IMHO, the Brosnan Bond flick with the crazy media-tycoon villain with the massive catamaran lair is good fun (my husband reminds me it's called Tomorrow Never Dies) in the spirit of the best cartoony Moores. Also the one (same one?) with the hot Chinese-martial-arts-film star who ends up handcuffed to Bond early on, motorcycle chase, etc etc.

My husband also points out that after watching the real Bond flicks, the boys might enjoy what he calls 'The Matt Damon Bond Flicks,' aka the Bourne movies.

Eloise said...

Also, if they like this sort of thing, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade might well be fun for them, in a less explosiony but just as over-the-top way.

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