What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the general fuckery Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.
If you know a film with major plot holes or those that make you scratch your eyes out, tell us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.
Do you remember when Daniel Craig was picked as Pierce Brosnan’s successor in the long running James Bond franchise? A lot of people were upset, calling him James Blond and James Bland. Some people were complaining that the franchise was mining from the Bourne franchise, trying retread ground that Jason Bourne already had done. While it is true that Bourne was an influence on the recent Craig adventures (they even recruited key crew members from the Bourne franchise to help coregraph and make Bond more real) this wasn’t the first time James Bond had lifted from another franchise, and it won’t be the last.
The fact is, plain and simple, this is how James Bond stays relevant. About every five years or five movies (give or take), there will be a James Bond movie that borrows heavily from other movies, just to test it out. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. Roger Moore’s debut in 1973’s Live and Let Die paid homage to the then current trend of blaxploitation movies and 1989’s Licence To Kill was one of the most violent James Bond movies ever made and was made in response to the success of the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon franchises.
Roger Moore was James Bond for twelve years, staring in seven movies. Due to his length in the role, he experienced many of these genre shifting movies. After finding his footing as James Bond in his third outing, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, he was set to return in a more toned down return to form. This movie was even advertised in the ending credits of The Spy Who Loved Me stating that “JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE”. The more toned down and espionage filled adventure was put on the back burner after the unexpected success of 1977’s Star Wars.
After the success of Star Wars, they decided to script a movie with laser guns, space battles, and James Bond going into outer space.
They quickly searched every single James Bond novel to find a suitable story to turn into a science fiction space story, ultimately deciding on Moonraker, a book where James Bond doesn’t fire his weapon once and has no connection to the movie outside of its title and a handful of characters.
In order to make “going into outer space” plotline seem not as retarded, they needed to make every single aspect of the movie as corny as possible. They upped the action, ridiculousness, and camp vibe of The Spy Who Loved Me and turned the dial to fifteen. How do you make this movie so ridiculous that going into space feels like a natural progression? Bond meets an astronaut with the name “Dr Holly Goodhead”. When she tells Bond that she doesn’t know how to read (despite having a doctorate), he is more surprised with the idea that a woman became a doctor rather than an illiterate becoming a doctor. There is a sequence in this movie where a pigeon sees James Bond use a gadget and then the pigeon does a double take.
The flow of the movie feels wrong and inconsistent. While it’s a traditional James Bond movie and follows the formula well, the scenes change from being laughably slow and poorly done (the fight sequence with Jaws and the cable car), surprisingly chilling and grim (a woman is hunted and killed by dobermans in a forest), a zero gravity sex scene, and also have I told you that James Bond goes into space.
Over the course of the movie, James Bond discovers that villain Hugo Drax is building a space station that he will fill with Aryan people to create a ‘perfect’ human race to repopulate Earth after killing the entire world from orbit. Once in space, Jaws (who has been a bad guy for not only this movie, but the prior movie) decides to defect to help James Bond after falling in love with Dolly. While Jaws is a fan favorite (his death sequence in the last movie was cut from the last movie because people liked him too much) and him changing into a good guy isn’t a bad idea, or even falling in love being the catalyst for the change, the problem is that he fell in love with a girl who actively signed up with a plan to make an Aryan race by killing everyone. He switches sides to help Bond and saved the world, because he fell in love with a space Nazi.
Is this movie stupid? It absolutely is. Is it worth watching? It’s James Bond, of course it is. Even the worst ones are still worth watching and it’s still better than Die Another Day, making it the second or third worst James Bond movie in the history of the franchise. As stupid as it was, it was still the highest grossing James Bond movie of all time till Goldeneye twenty years later. Plus, deep down inside, you know you want to see James Bond in space.