Bond 50: Part VI – Moonraker (1979) & For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Part6

Here it is (FINALLY), Part VI of my 12-part review of the James Bond 50th Anniversary blu-ray box set. I apologize for the extreme lateness for this entry. I actually watched these movies a while ago and just now got around to writing them up. I just got busy with other things. I’ll do better in the future.

With this entry in the series, I have officially reached the halfway point of my journey through the James Bond franchise. As you’ll see below, this pairing of Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only carried with it both good and bad things. Yet I still enjoyed myself and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts on them.

Of course, you can read my past Bond 50 posts here. And follow me around the internet with the links below.

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Moonraker (1979)

Release Date: June 29th, 1979

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Writer:  Christopher Wood

Stars:  Roger MooreLois ChilesMichael Lonsdale

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Movie

Plot:

James Bond investigates the theft of a space shuttle and stumbles upon a horrific plot. He also goes up against a familiar foe.

Thoughts:

This is the Bond movie I’ve been looking forward to the most. I am a huge fan of space in general and any depiction of space on film is a real treat to me. Seeing James Bond tackle space gives me a ton of joy and did not disappoint. This may actually be my favorite Bond movie yet. Seriously.

The opening sequence is incredible. While it’s probably not my favorite of the ones so far, that really speaks more to the quality thus far and not to any issues with this movie’s sequence. The highlight was seeing Bond steal a bad guy’s parachute in mid-air. I liked seeing henchman Jaws return from The Spy Who Loved Me.

The opening credits line up with the theme music in a notably fitting way. I watched this movie a while after watching The Spy Who Loved Me. The amazing opening sequence and impressive opening credits made me realize how much these movies are becoming a source of comfort for me. I had missed watched Bond and his antics.

The movie looks fantastic on blu-ray. The space sequences in the climax of the film are of particular note; as are the various action sequences. It’s mentioned in the special features that The Spy Who Loved Me was the most successful Bond movie yet. As such, money was poured into the production of Moonraker and it shows in the best ways.

A lot of the movie is pretty tongue-in-cheek but it’s not without intense scenes. There’s a scene in which Bond is put in a centrifuge and nearly killed. As the speed increases, my heart rate elevated. It reminded me of the cremation scene in Diamonds Are Forever in that I had no idea how Bond was going to escape. Intercutting shots of Bond and the centrifuge with flashes of Q giving him the gadget that would save his life was a really nice touch.

Speaking of gadgets, I was floored by the use of the miniature spy camera. It’s become such a cliché of the spy genre that I’ve never seen it honestly employed in anything that wasn’t satire. In fact, the thing I identify it to the most is The Simpsons. So seeing what I assume is the origin of this comedy trope was a really pleasant surprise.

The more Bond movies I see with Roger Moore, the more I love the guy. There’s a moment in this movie where Bond sees Jaws and Moore shines a big toothy smile at the henchman. Pieces of light comedy in these movies are part of what makes Moore such a great Bond for me.

I loved Jaws in this movie, by the way. He undergoes a really interesting character arc that, according to the special features, was in response to a ton of fan mail after The Spy Who Loved Me. It was refreshing seeing a recurring villain in this franchise.

What I loved most about Moonraker (and why it may be my favorite Bond movie yet) was the climax. Moonraker launched Bond into space and I couldn’t be happier. It’s over the top, of course, but when I bought the set, I was looking for ridiculous and cheesy spy movies. This movie delivered that for me while also turning it into a space movie, a genre that I love.

I really like the visuals in the space scenes. There’s something to vintage sci-fi that I just love. I think it’s seeing such dated technology used in situations more advanced than what modern day space travel can muster that I enjoy so much. It’s interesting to see how ambitious our dreams of space were back then.

By the end there’s a full-fledged EVA space battle with laser guns that made me pause the movie and proclaim it as my favorite Bond movie! I regret nothing. The climax of Moonraker delivered multiple layers of satisfaction for me that I simply did not expect from a Bond movie.

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Blu-Ray Features

MI6 Commentary

CommentaryFeaturing Director Lewis Gilbert and members of the cast and crew

CommentaryFeaturing Sir Roger Moore

Declassified: MI6 Vault

007 in Rio – Original 1979 Production Featurette (12mins, 45secs) – It’s really interesting to see these archival featurettes. I really like seeing the grainy behind the scenes footage. Since they were made as promotional material, seeing what aspects of the film they wanted to promote is really cool. This featurette puts an emphasis on filming in Rio.

Bond ’79 (12mins, 18secs) – Producer Michael Wilson introduces this series of interviews that took place in 1979 while filming Moonraker.

Ken Adam’s Production Films (12mins, 3secs) – I love hearing Ken Adam talk us through footage from the filming locations.

Learning to Freefall – Sky Diving Test Footage (3mins, 56secs) – Michael Wilson talks us through the intricacies of filming the skydiving sequence while impressive test footage is shown.

Sky Diving Storyboards (1min, 21secs) – Storyboards of the opening sequence set to the Bond theme.

Circus Footage (1min, 19secs) – Footage of the circus from the end of the opening sequence with narration by Michael Wilson.

Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 1 (1min, 23secs) – Michael Wilson narrates this alternate look at one of the movie’s biggest sequences. This take ends slightly differently for Jaws.

Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 2 (2mins, 10secs) – This is a more drastically changed storyboard. It includes a fight with a henchman they didn’t end up using.

007 Mission ControlThis is a nifty little interactive chapter selection feature. 

Mission Dossier

Inside Moonraker – An Original Documentary (42mins, 2secs) – An in-depth look at the making of the movie. There’s a really great look at how they handled the special effects in the space scenes. The techniques they used were very clever and impressive.

The Men Behind the Mayhem – Special Effects Documentary (19mins, 1sec) – A look at the people responsible for the special effects in the Bond movies throughout the franchise.

Ministry of PropagandaTheatrical Archive, TV Broadcasts & Radio CommunicationA thorough collection of all the promotional material. (11mins 50secs).

Image DatabaseA sizable gallery of pictures from the making of the movie.

Buy the individual “Moonraker” blu-ray here.

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For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Release Date: June 26, 1981

Director: John Glen

Writers: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson

Stars: Roger Moore, Carole BouquetTopol

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Movie

Plot:

Bond’s attempts to locate and recover a British encryption device are complicated by a woman seeking revenge for the death of her parents.

Thoughts:

Welcome to the 1980s, Mr. Bond.

I wasn’t terribly crazy about this entry in the Bond franchise. The biggest issue I had was the very “80s” soundtrack. It comes down to personal preference but whenever Bond got into a chase or other action-heavy situation, the soundtrack swelled with overproduced 80s music and it grated on my nerves.

That’s not to say it ruined the action sequences. The movie itself is a mixed bag in terms of the set pieces the franchise is most known for. While the production value hasn’t wavered, the situations have become a bit repetitive. There’s a ski chase that is very reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and it even involves a bobsled track. There’s also a gunfight on a beach similar to OHMSS.

Maybe those connections are intentional. It’s certainly possible considering the movie opens with a scene showing Bond at the grave of his dead wife. But that seemed like it was more of a design for the pre-credit sequence considering it had no other bearing on the plot of the movie.

The pre-credit sequence itself was probably my least favorite thing in any of this half of the Bond franchise’s movies. As I understand it, Kevin McClory (who originally worked with Ian Fleming to adapt Thunderball) owned the rights to SPECTRE and the Blofeld character. After a lengthy court case was settled, he kept the rights and the opening of For Your Eyes Only was written to kill off Blofeld and to tell McClory that the success of the franchise didn’t rest on SPECTRE and Blofeld.

There’s more to the behind the scenes legal issues, I’m sure, but the end result is a pre-credit sequence that irked me. Blofeld’s death is too comical and silly. At one point he tries to bargain for his life by saying “I’ll buy you a delicatessen.” It’s silly but it’s not “Bond silly.” It felt vindictive and not in keeping with the tone of the franchise.

I didn’t hate For Your Eyes Only, though. It’s not the best but it’s far from the worst. The plot isn’t terribly engaging but there’s a turn a little over halfway through and that’s when my interest was piqued. The last third of the movie was more to my liking and the set pieces before I, while carrying an annoying soundtrack and a bit repetitive, were still fun to watch.

All in all, For Your Eyes Only is a solid entry in the franchise.

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Blu-Ray Features 

MI6 CommentaryFeaturing Michael G. Wilson

Declassified: MI6 Vault

Deleted Scenes and Expanded Angles 

Bond in Greece (5mins, 58secs) – Michael Wilson talks about filming with new director John Glen.

Bond in Cortina (4mins, 17secs) – Michael Wilson talks about filming the snowy sequences.

Neptune’s Journey (3mins, 33secs) – Once again narrated by Michael Wilson, this time talks about filming the underwater scenes in the Bahamas.

007 Mission ControlThis is a nifty little interactive chapter selection feature.

Mission Dossier

Inside For Your Eyes Only (29mins, 48secs) – Behind the scenes documentary of the making of the movie with an emphasis on the difficulties and nerves filming stunts and the filmmakers’ attempts to bring the franchise back to reality after Moonraker.

Animated Storyboard Sequence – Snowmobile Chase (1min, 14secs) – Concept work for the movie’s planned snowmobile chase that eventually became a motorcycle chase.

Animated Storyboard Sequence – Underwater (1min, 46secs) – Storyboards for the underwater sequence.

Sheena Easton Music Video (2mins, 46secs) – The movie’s theme song.

Ministry of PropagandaTheatrical Archive, TV Broadcasts & Radio CommunicationA thorough collection of all the promotional material. (11mins 50secs).

Image DatabaseA sizable gallery of pictures from the making of the movie.

Buy the individual “For Your Eyes Only” blu-ray here.

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Verdict

I watched these movies once and made notes throughout. After taking some time away from the Bond 50 set (and procrastinating on this review) I came back and looked over my notes. When I read them over one thought came over me. I need to watch these movies again.

What’s funny is that statement covers a variety of different feelings. While I can say that about both Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only and mean it, I have very different feelings toward the movie.

So I felt the urge to rewatch both movies before the review. I wanted to rewatch Moonraker because I loved it and wanted to experience the joys of seeing Bond in space (I’m sad this movie has a lower IMDb rating than Diamonds Are Forever). When it comes to For Your Eyes Only, I felt like I needed to watch the movie again because the plot wasn’t very engaging and my memory was too hazy to actually write an honest review of it.

So obviously I choose Moonraker as the winner in this match up of the Bond 50 set. I didn’t rewatch it though, sadly. But I did rewatch For Your Eyes Only and found myself liking it more the second time around.

You can buy the Bond 50th Anniversary blu-ray collection here (now including Skyfall!)

I don’t have a rigid schedule for these reviews, so if you want to know when the next one is posted, you can follow me on Twitter @ObsessiveViewer and like the blog on Facebook. You can also check out The Obsessive Viewer Podcastfor weekly episodes about a bevy of TV & Movie related discussions.

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The Obsessive Viewer will return in…

Bond 50: Part VII – Octopussy (1983) & A View to a Kill (1985)

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5 responses to “Bond 50: Part VI – Moonraker (1979) & For Your Eyes Only (1981)

  1. Pingback: Bond 50: Part V – The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) & The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) | The Obsessive Viewer

  2. Interesting. I loved Moonraker as a kid, but it didn’t hold up for me recently. It’s ridiculous, and it’s hard to go wrong with Bond in space, but it’s not one of my favorites. On the other hand, I really like For Your Eyes Only. It’s second behind The Spy Who Loved Me for Roger Moore’s films for me, and I like the harder-edged look for Moore. The opening sequence is terrible, but it’s mostly good after that. It moves slower and actually feels a little more believable (with a few exceptions). It’s not in my top five but is underrated for me. Looking forward to checking out some of your other Bond posts!

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    • Thanks for reading, Dan!

      I wonder what kind of reaction I would have had to Moonraker if I’d seen it as a kid, myself. I feel like I probably would have had a similar reaction after rewatching it as an adult. I doubt I would have picked up on just how silly a movie it is if I’d seen it as a kid. So when rewatching it, I probably would have been taken aback.

      I’ve warmed up to For Your Eyes Only a little after watching the special features. It’s still a fun movie but I just have some problems with it. I love Roger Moore as Bond, though. I’m going to hate seeing him exit the franchise.

      Thanks! I’m hoping to be more diligent with my Bond reviews. There was a huge gap between parts 5 and 6. Look for more soon.

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  3. As a kid I enjoyed Moonraker more. It was with Live And Let Die (LALD was the one that made me a big Bond fan) my favourite. Later on, For Your Eyes Only was one of my favourites. Last time I watched all Bond movies (End of 2014/Start of 2015), Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only tied.
    My all time favourites are:
    1. The Spy Who Loved Me
    2. Goldfinger
    3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    4. The Living Daylights
    5. Thunderball
    6. Live And Let Die
    7. Moonraker
    8. From Russia With Love
    9. For Your Eyes Only
    10. GoldenEye

    By the way, what’s up with the rest?
    Did you watch them?

    Like

    • Very nice! Thanks for commenting and reading. I took a hiatus from this little project a while ago. I’ve been meaning to get back into it but haven’t had the time. I’m really hoping to get through the rest starting in the summer to kinda lead up to Spectre.

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