This week’s episode of The Talk Show included a review of Moonraker. The Talk Show is a weekly webacast where Dan Benjamin and John Gruber talk about Apple, Mac, iPhone and related topics. They’ve also been reviewing the James Bond movies starting with Dr. No for the past couple of months. These are honest and accurate reviews, citing the good and the bad of each film. Their review and analysis of Moonraker was par for the course, noting that the second half jumps off the logic train never to return (my summarized interpretation, not their words).
However, Moonraker holds a special place for me. I was a bit young and afraid of Darth Vader when Star Wars first came out so I missed it’s initial run in the theaters. Instead, I got to see all of the pretenders to the throne that came afterwards: Battlestar Galactica, Black Hole, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Battle Beyond the Stars and of course Moonraker. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these films and think they range from ok to modern classics but I’m pretty sure none would’ve made it to the theater without the success of Star Wars.
Moonraker was my introduction to James Bond. While The Talk Show pulls apart the lapses in logic compared to earlier Bond movies, to me as a child it was insane fun. Sure, as an adult I can wonder why would a mock funeral be staged just to kill James Bond and why his gondola becomes a hover craft, but as a kid it was just one insane techno-action sequence after another. A boat with mines and a hang glider for escapes? Yes! Fighting on a runaway cable car? Yes! Escaping death by rocket exhaust? Yes! Marines fighting in space with lasers? Yes! Exploding bolas? I had never seen regular bolas let alone ones that wrap around and explode. Yes!
Now, on reflecting on the movie, maybe it was all too much, but for a 6 year old at the time, it was pretty damn cool. The combination of gadgets, action and sci-fi was great. Does a kid care that elaborate assassination attempts during a funeral procession, while skeet shooting or getting pushed out of an airplane made no sense? Not really. I just took it for granted that was how things work in the James Bond universe. I didn’t see For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy had no impact on me (I think I blocked it out it was so unmemorable) when I saw it during summer camp several years later. Moonraker had cemented itself as my archetype of Bond for years to come and gave me inspiration of what to do with my many space shuttle plastic models beside launch them into space and deploy satellites. But that’s another story.