British secret service agent, 007 is back in this most panned of entries, Moonraker! In this episode, an American space shuttle is hijacked as it is being ferried from the UK to the USA, piggyback on a 747. Seemingly lost without a trace, James Bond & the British Secret Service are enlisted to track down & retrieve, the missing orbiter. The trail as it's followed leads to none other than Billionaire Industrialist, Hugo Drax, the orbiter's builder. In a fiendish plot that involves, satellites, shuttles, ray guns JAWS & a desire to wipe out all human life on Earth, Drax is Bond's coolest villain yet! With the aid of the ever-helpful Holly Goodhead (snicker) Bond, will traverse both Heaven & Earth to foil the awful plans of Hugo Drax!
The audio as presented in its Dolby 5.1 platform is pretty well done. I did think it was a little bit light in some places & the dialogue at times seems to be fighting for supremacy with the rest of the effects but, overall, I greatly enjoyed the aural presentation. There was good left to right movement & the sub was decently thunderous with the explosions & shuttle liftoffs.
Here's my only gripe with the film. While for the most part the anamorphic transfer is crystal clear & sparkling, the darker parts of the film suffer a great deal from scratches & pixellation. Most notably during the space/Earth orbit scenes, the black of space is really the "speckle" of space. The pixels & scratches are rather annoying given the beauty of the rest of the print. Another spot of mention is the waterfall scene. The effect used to create the end of the waterfall is so obvious that it's quite distracting. Not only is it poorly rendered, the coloring is off & it tends to be quite distracting. Other than those points of interest, the video is fine.
The first wave of Bond SE discs were jam packed with all kinds of extras. The second wave is a little less ambitious let's just say. The Special Edition features are: Inside Moonraker documentary This is an incredibly well done documentary that is about ½ an hour to 45 minutes in length. It's loaded with technical information & interviews germane to Moonraker. If you haven't seen he film in a while or have never seen it before, I suggest that you watch the supplemental materials after the film. The reason being, they give away the ending! Other than that, The Moonraker doc. is pretty cool!
The Men Behind the Mayhem, Special Effects documentary
This is without a doubt the best part of the disc! An hour in length, this doc takes an incredibly in depth look at the effects from pre to post production. They cover everything & I mean everything! By the time you finish watching this doc, you will know how to pull off a Moonraker yourself! The lengths to which the effects team goes to create these effects is pretty phenomenal. From the gondola sequence to the river chase/waterfall to the satellite sequences, this effects team is simply incredible. There's even a bit about Roger Moore's stunt double in that gondola sequence that's a bit intense but, I guess that's what it takes to make movies!
This is a collection of publicity shots taken for the film. Some are pretty neat while others should never have been taken. Nothing really special here.
Trailers have come a long way since 1979 & this one definitely shows it's age! It's in pretty poor shape & it's really long! Much like the "Inside Moonraker" documentary, it gives way too much of the film away. And again, it's just too long.
I have to admit, I do really enjoy the commentary tracks on the Bond SE's. Moonraker is no different. Director Lewis Gilbert lends his wit & charm to the intricacies of the filmmaking process as well as cast & crew idiosyncrasies when it came to making the film. Additionally, the cast & crew lent their considerable knowledge on the behind the scenes issues & problems. All in all, this commentary was well done & equally enjoyable.
The menus for the entire series are absolutely incredible. Moonraker is no exception to that rule! From the opening of the disc to the selection of the various menu choices, you are greeted by some of the coolest menus available. The score plays over them as well & it all goes to make a very attractive package. Overall:
I really like this movie. It's one of the first I can remember watching as a young kid & I have waited patiently for its release. Now that it's here I am both happy & sad. In 1979, these effects were cutting edge. Joining the "Star Wars" bandwagon(see commentary), Moonraker took Bond from Inner to Outer space in one fell swoop. Jaws came back from The Spy who Loved me & all sorts of cool Sci-Fi elements were added to this still, the only Bond to make it into space. Most critics & a lot of fans panned it for it's attempts at becoming something it wasn't.(Sci-Fi) I however, am not one of the film's detractors. Admittedly, the effects & scope of the film are very dated & reflect the point to which effects had gotten in 1979. That having been said, I found Moonraker to be very enjoyable in a cool, campy sort of way! I really enjoyed the comic interaction between Bond & Jaws! I think some thought there was a little too much levity for a James Bond picture but I enjoyed it all the same. The price point is a painful $34 for the individual titles in every B&M I've checked. Online, they are averaging $24-$29. I paid the B&M price on an impulse. As much as I enjoy this film, it's really not worth $34. In any event if you are a fan of the film as I am , you will have to add this one to the collection. Collector's Edition