Aw, man. I really do feel bad for Roger Moore. All of his Bond films but two are just right at the bottom. I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with him, but mainly the scripts and the time period. Live and Let Die came out in the 70s when Shaft was big, ultimately making it feel like Shaft meets James Bond, the script for Man with the Golden Gun was just awful all around, Octopussy had it’s moments but is just so forgettable (almost all of these movies I can seriously recall scene-for-scene, but I had to go back and watch that one again to remember). Now Moonraker just had the unfortunate timing coming out two years after Star Wars and the producers were clearly trying to cash in on the outer space craze at the time. Honestly if it weren’t for the third act of this movie, it would have been great. It still makes me nuts to look at the cover of the blu-ray and see Bond dressed in a space suit!
Overall, the film is basically a remake of The Spy Who Loved Me, only this time in space and not underwater. The villain, Hugo Drax, steals a space shuttle that he built in order to obliterate life on Earth in order to have a genetically superior race (that he has specifically chosen). Bond gets his orders, gets his gadgets, confronts the villain while finding his Bond girl, and leads a raid on the villains lair (this time in space). Yup, this is the Bond formula in action. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are a number of set pieces here that are pretty great though. The opening sky-diving sequence where Bond fights Jaws (Richard Kiel) mid-air, Bond and Drax shooting pheasants has a great punchline, the hover-craft gondola chase in Venice, and the cable-car fight with Jaws is also fantastic.
I know this one is absolutely hated by the majority of Bond fans, but I have a bit of a soft spot for it. Jaws is arguably the best henchman in the series and always delivers in each scene. Yes, the movie is overly goofy and the end is pretty terrible and oddly boring, but I feel that everything before that is outright enjoyable. It may be an outer space version of the Bond film that came immediately before this, but that was simply the formula for these movies (see Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, Spy who Loved Me, Tomorrow Never Dies, Goldeneye, Licence to Kill, and a few I’m sure I am forgetting). So that is not really a complaint. Roger Moore is great here as well and makes the whole “James Bond in Space” idea work as well as it possibly could.