Over the halfway point for both Bond movies and the Roger Moore era. Hard to believe this is part of the same series that began with Dr. No.
Bond: Roger Moore – 2 tusks
Against the backdrop of this movie, my problems with Roger Moore pale in comparison. Actually, given the material he had to work with, he did alright. His delivery of some of the little quips has really gotten better and he’s much more comfortable in the role by this point than he was in the first two he did.
Girl: Lois Chiles as Doctor Holly Goodhead – 1 tusk
According to IMDb, Chiles was offered the role of Anya in The Spy Who Loved Me and turned it down. And I’m so glad she did. She and Roger Moore had very little chemistry although I think they were wanting her to be another Anya and have she and Bond share that similar dynamic.
Gadgets: A plethora – 0 tusks
My problem with the gadgets here is that there is no set up for most of them. Other than Bond’s watch he uses in the centrifuge and the laser rifle, the gadgets and vehicles seem to come out of nowhere. The worst offender would be the gondola Bond uses in Venice. Why is there a guy paddling in the first place if Bond has a super gondola? The gadgets go overboard in general especially when they break out laser pistols. Bond never uses a laser pistol and for that, I’m very glad.
Opening Theme: “Moonraker” performed by Shirley Bassey – 0 tusks
“You’re listening to WNRD, your local Lite Rock station…” Completely unfitting for both James Bond and this movie. In doing some of the reading I do for these write-ups, I discovered that Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis were both in line to do the theme. Sinatra doing a Bond theme…that would have been a hoot.
Villain: Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax – 0 tusks
Absolutely awful. The man had no screen presence and was the least exciting villain in a Bond movie yet. Could he deliver his lines with any less enthusiasm? And the guy was completely under-developed. Why did he want to destroy the world? I don’t know. Maybe he said and I just slept through his lines.
Henchman: Richard Kiel as Jaws – 1 tusk
It got to be a bit much to see Jaws survive everything in the previous movie. Here, it was absolutely absurd. If I based Jaws appearance in this movie based solely on the opening sequence, I’d give him two tusks. And that’s where his involvement in this movie should have ended. But then, he wouldn’t have been the henchman. More than just annoyance of his super-strength and his apparent superhuman ability to hone in on James Bond’s exact location, Jaws was further de-coolified when he was turned into a good guy. The whole love story between him and Dolly was cringe-inducing and absurd. (Have I used that word already? Let me check…yep. Well, it was.) That alone almost cost him any tusks, but what saves him is that…
Pre-title opening sequence – 2 tusks
You know, I really thought that mid-air fight sequence was spectacular. And after watching the extra features on how it was made, I’ll give it the full two tusks. Very well done in a time way before cgi and all sorts of other computer cheats. This stunt was practically done. And these guys jumped out of a plane over 80 times to shoot this sequence. Amazing.
By this point, there’s been a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek stuff throughout the films, but this has by far the most. The silly by-stander reaction shots, the continuous call outs to sci-fi films, and the Jaws/Dolly plot all make this movie hard to stomach. Director Lewis Gilbert must have had some fascination with the idea of temp headquarters for M, Moneypenny and Q because in all three of his movies, M has an office somewhere other than London and Moneypenny is right outside the door. What? Why?!
This movie goes beyond believability in the final sequence. Though the special effects are surprisingly well done for the day, the fact that six shuttles and a space station have been constructed by Drax, and that the US have space-trained Marines, and that Drax is able to find an entire network of people who are up for living on the station and destroying the world is completely absurd. (I used that word again.)
By far the worst Bond movie as a whole. If I ever watch it again, it’ll have to be done with someone so we can make fun of it the whole time.
Special shout out to Bernard Lee for playing the premier M for 11 straight movies. He usually only had a scene or two in each movie, but he owned the role and made what little he got to do count.
Previous Bond Movie Reviews
From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
Live And Let Die
The Man With The Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me