Moonraker (1979)

Kicking off with possibly the most preposterous Bond pre-credits yet (you’ll believe an Englishman can fly!), it’s cash-in time yet again… this time capitalising on the unexpected success of a little film called Star Wars and a hip new bit of technology called the space shuttle. It’s fun, but it’s also impossible to ignore how much of the film is a retread of The Spy Who Loved Me (with a dash of Live and Let Die thrown in, i.e. the chase down the river, and nods to various other films). Let’s face it, they have the same overall plot. Jaws is back. The submarine car is now a gondola hovercraft. John Barry’s score follows Marvin Hamlisch in quoting other film scores. The actually useful Bond girl. And so forth. The history of Bond films hitherto had been a litany of films not being made in their intended order, all the way back to 1962, and this time was no different; the announced next film (For Your Eyes Only) got bounced to make way for this in order to ride George Lucas’ coattails, and I wonder if that explains the similarities… you know, unexpected change of plan, ideas cupboard is bare, fuck it, let’s just rehash what we just did and hope no one notices. Well, if I notice these things, I’m sure I can’t be the only one, so… And yet, like I said, it’s still fun, however absurd it gets (and the laser gun battle in space is one of the silliest things in the series so far) and however painful the humour (and the jokeyness seemed more prominent than usual here); it was apparently the highest-grossing Bond film until GoldenEye 16 years later (over $200m), so evidently not that many people were bothered by how much like the last film it was.

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