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YMMV / Moonraker

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The novel:

  • Complete Monster: Though his plan is smaller in scale than his film counterpart's, Ian Fleming's original version of Sir Hugo Drax is no less vile. Born "Hugo von der Drache" in Germany and an avid fan of Adolf Hitler, Drax ran undercover missions against Britain for the Reich until he was mistakenly wounded by his own side and nursed back to health by the British. Stealing the identity of a MIA soldier with a similar name and feigning amnesia, Drax murdered the first rich man he could find after leaving the hospital for startup money and began plotting to avenge Nazi Germany's defeat. Using his family's holdings in rare metals, Drax paid out of his own pocket to design the Moonraker, a state-of-the-art nuclear missile meant to defend Britain from the Russians, with Drax's philanthropy elevating him to a national hero. The only problem was, the missile was set to destroy London on its first test firing with a real atomic bomb. When Drax describes the intended death toll for this catastrophe to him, Bond (a hardened killer himself) is left almost catatonic. Other crimes include running a motorist off the road and over a cliff due to the mere possibility he might've been a spy, and having people tortured for information with welding torches. For Drax, the mere destruction of their greatest city was not enough; he made himself into the British people's greatest hero just so their collective spirits would be crushed when the nuke hit.
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  • Idiot Plot: Putting aside the question of why the Soviets would trust any Nazi with a nuclear weapon just ten years after the Nazis invaded and devastated their country, the Soviets plan to pick up Drax and his fellow conspirators within view of watching journalists in a Soviet submarine.

The film:

  • Ass Pull:
    • The US military and Drax himself are able to launch fully-crewed and fully-fuelled space shuttles into orbit in only a matter of hours. In truth, the space shuttle took an average six months of preparation before it could be launched, and even the most optimistic prospects for the programme still called for several weeks of such work if multiple flights were to be worked into the span of a year.
      • In this universe, maybe the US military had an always ready shuttle. This universe also has trained space soldiers and hand held laser weapons.
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    • Equally egregious is Drax deploying an entire space station, larger than anything to have existed in reality without attracting the attention of the world below. Such a feat would have required perhaps dozens of launches in seeing all the components eventually assembled, and the station's radar jamming system certainly would not have covered for these. Further compounding this absurd scenario is no apparent interference caused by the station's orbit to the world's expansive network of telecommunications or anybody with a telescope taking note of it, not to mention you could see it with the naked eye from the ground — true, it would only be a moving point of light, but visible nonetheless.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Broken Base: The movie itself. For many fans and critics, the space sequences and the camp humour cements this as one of the most absurd Bond films in the series and is often looked upon with disdain. For many, however, it is either a guilty pleasure or a genuinely exciting movie. The latter camp is helped by the absolutely stunning and massive set pieces designed by Ken Adam and the excellent special effects to accompany them.
  • Complete Monster: Hugo Drax is a cold, snobbish, understated executive who wishes to exterminate the human race, except for those he considers "superior beings". To this end, Drax captures men and women whom he sees as physically perfect, planning to keep these people in his giant space station while he covers the Earth in a rare toxin that will kill every human being on Earth. When one of his Moonraker space shuttles is hijacked, Bond is sent to investigate. Fearing that Bond will discover his plans, Drax sends his assassins to kill him, not doing the job himself because he wants Bond's death to amuse him. When he discovers that his personal pilot, Corrine Dufour, helped Bond uncover his plan, he fires her, then sends his dogs out to rip her apart. After he tells Bond his plan, he traps him and one of his scientists, Dr. Holly Goodhead, under one of his rockets, planning on burning the both of them. When he discovers Bond and Goodhead on his space station, he threatens to shoot them both out the airlock. When Bond corners him after his plans are failing, Drax finds a gun and threatens to shoot him, knowing that he'll at least "have the pleasure of putting [Bond] out of my misery". Drax is a chilling, dark villain who stands out in such a campy, silly movie.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Bond is placed in a centrifuge that can test the durability of potential astronauts against a g-force of up to twenty gs, which Dr. Goodhead remarks would be fatal. In actuality, Air Force Colonel John Stapp had set the record for a human's sustainability against g-forces of up to 46 gs in 1954, twenty-five years before Moonraker was released.
    • The skydiving scene, exciting as it is, takes much too long. Bond freefalls for about two full minutes before he pulls the ripcord, which means he fell for approximately 18,000 feet. He sure doesn't start out that high, and he doesn't even seem to be much closer to the ground when he opens his 'chute.
    • Kudos to the film for dealing with artificial gravity in a realistic way, by spinning the station. The problem is, that only works on surfaces perpendicular to the center of rotation. The control center has floor surfaces parallel with the center of rotation— everybody would be stuck on the walls. Certainly for budget reasons, as really doing it correctly like Kubrick would have been extremely expensive.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One of the actors considered for Drax was James Mason. Had he taken the role, it would be just like playing Captain Nemo again, only IN SPACE AND WITH BOND!
    • A space-themed adventure in an otherwise non-sci-fi film series featuring a guy named Drax. Hmmm... What's funnier is his actor, Batista, played a Bond villain, Mr. Hinx in Spectre.
    • In this film, the United States Armed Forces has a fully trained and fully armed Space Force ready to intercept foreign threats in orbit within a few hours notice, specifically Drax's space station. Fast forward to 2018 when President Donald Trump began pursuing the military to establish a space force as an entirely new branch to the US Armed Forces, oficially founded in 2019; however, there's no Space Marine force, yet.
    • Drax is revealed to own the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but the French government wouldn't let him move it to the United States. A View to a Kill would show an action sequence at the tower in Paris.
  • Hollywood Homely: Dolly, the girl Jaws falls in love with, is almost a parody of the trope. Her pigtails and big glasses seem meant to make her look unattractive, but she's still clearly an impressively-proportioned blonde woman in a low-cut dress in a Bond film.
  • Idiot Plot: In reality, Drax's plan to repopulate the world with his chosen ones, would simply not work—period. No matter how 'perfect' (attractive) his minions were, there were simply not near enough of them to rebuild or sustain any kind of civilization. His numbers alone would have put humanity into a population bottleneck far more severe than that proposed by the Toba catastrophe theory, in which it is estimated the total number of humans on the entire Earth, at ~10,000, or less even. Far more than Drax's space station could ever hold. His entire harem, would be roughly equivalent to the population of a small village. His group would lack the skills, numbers, and resilience to survive in a de-populated world. A world that would be wracked by massive pollution from abandoned nuclear, industrial and chemical sites, among other threats and dangers. The end result of Drax's megalomania, should his plan have worked, would likely lead to the total extinction of the human race, not a rebirth. At best, his group might have a shelf-life of a few generations before expiring. Inbreeding, infighting, and deaths caused by accidents, pollution, or just plain despair would claim enough of them to render the entire undertaking a lost cause. If they were really fortunate, the (inbred) survivors might end up living an existence not dissimilar to some of the most isolated tribes in South America and Africa, if they survived at all, that is.
  • Inferred Holocaust: See all those beautiful women on the poster? See the same beautiful women and handsome men exercising on Drax's estate and later romancing each other on the shuttle flight up to the station? Consider now that every one of them are likely slaughtered either by the good guys — the space soldiers — or in the destruction of the space station, as with the sole exception of Jaws's girlfriend (who was never one of their number anyway), the film gives zero indication of there being any survivors, casting a grim light on what is otherwise an exciting space battle. Of course, it can be argued that they all have Asshole Victim status given that they were totally cool with working with Drax the Omnicidal Maniac.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: This movie's gotten a lot of criticism for essentially being a near beat for beat rehash of The Spy Who Loved Me, which was already a rehash of You Only Live Twice.
  • Narm:
    • As spectacular a sequence as the freefall fight otherwise is, it ending with Jaws crashing into a circus tent at the end of his fall serves as a serious case of Mood Whiplash.
    • For some, "Dr. Goodhead" certainly qualifies.
    • Chang's expression when Bond escapes the G-Force simulator, which looks more like the girl he asked to prom turned him down.
    • Bond's miniature camera is emblazoned with "007" around the lenses.
    • The entire gondola scene, particularly the moment Bond drives it upon land through a gawking crowd of onlookers.
    • Chang showing up in a kendo outfit and swinging around a bokken while screaming every time he attacks, all the while acting more like a bull in a china shop than someone actually trying kill Bond. It's hard to take the fight scene seriously, as it looks more like a fight between Inspector Clouseau and Cato.
    • Jaws falling in love complete with the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy.
  • Narm Charm: The entire concept of James Bond going into outer space is one of the better parts of the film for many fans.
  • Never Live It Down: The only film to date in which Bond ventures into outer space, and for good reason as it was a blatant effort to cash in on the science fiction craze launched by the release of Star Wars two years prior.note  For many a Bond fan it provides for a fun and exciting ride, if an over-the-top and absurd one at that. For many others, though, it is the sheer absurdity of this premise that has made it impossible to take seriously.
  • The Scrappy: Holly Goodhead isn't as actively despised as Mary Goodnight, Stacey Sutton or Christmas Jones, but she's often considered one of the dullest and least interesting Bond Girls in the entire series. Many fans think her dynamic is just a less interesting copy of Bond's dynamic with Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. Another common criticism is that she has virtually no impact on the plot after her abduction in Rio, other than providing someone for Bond to exposit to and then have sex with at the end, whereas even the more widely hated Bond Girls at least did something in the climaxes of their respective films. Unless you count her piloting the airship that levels the humanity-destroying bombs during the last stretch, of course, but her bland personality is still a persistent issue for most. This is made worse by the fact that her book counterpart is Gala Brand, one of the few great women characters that Fleming wrote. Real Life Writes the Plot here as Lois Chiles was pregnant during filming, so there wasn't that much she could do.
  • Sequelitis: Many consider it one of the worst Bond films, if not the worst for its bizarre premise.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The pre-credit sequence, with Bond falling from a plane without a parachute and fighting in the air with a henchman.
    • Bond and Jaws fighting in the Sugarloaf Cable Car.
  • So Bad, It's Good: For all the problems this film has, even the ones who think it's awful acknowledge it certainly isn't boring.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The doubletaking pigeon. Also qualifies at Stock Footage Failure.
    • Bluescreening for Jaws jumping between the cable cars.
    • The ludicrously fake snake Roger Moore wrestles.
    • The US shuttle sent to intercept Drax's station is shown in one shot to be far too small for the multiple platoons of marines deployed into battle.
    • We have a shot of Moonraker 6 on approach to the station, then docks, then a few seconds later we have a view of the station and the shuttle is not docked again from a recycled shot.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Considering how campy the movie is, one might expect Michael Lonsdale to ham it up. But he doesn't, instead giving a subdued, chilling performance as main villain Hugo Drax.
  • Tough Act to Follow: While the film is often easily dismissed, it doesn't help that it's coming on the heels of The Spy Who Loved Me, a common pick for Moore's best film, and a contender for one of the series' best installments overall.
  • Villain Decay: Jaws, who was an unstoppable murder-machine in the The Spy Who Loved Me, while already being treated as a comic relief in that film due to Does Not Know His Own Strength and his ridiculous ability to survive; falls in love here and even pulls a Heel–Face Turn at the end. In the love interest part at least, the writers were reluctant to give Jaws a love interest in this film (or at least, a love interest like Dolly), but Richard Kiel fought for it. When people said it was silly that Jaws would have such a diminutive girlfriend, he retorted that his own wife was exactly the same height.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The opening sky-diving scene. Keep in mind that this was pre-CGI. It took some 70 jumps to accomplish, and it still looks great nearly forty years later.
    • Now that is a space station. Incidentally, it was the last set built for the Bond films by Ken Adam, who was production designer since Dr. No, and boy, did he leave on a high note.
    • All the shots of the astronauts floating in zero-g. This film is the record holder for the largest number of invisible hanging wires to be used in a single scene.
    • The laser battle aboard the space station. Not quite up there with Star Wars but it still makes for an impressive climax.
    • The space assault was done in-camera, meaning after an element was filmed, the canister was rewound and the next element was filmed over the same length of film. They did this dozens of times, not knowing if the film was getting damaged inside the camera or if any elements overlapped with one another because if any of that happened, they'd have to start all over again. Luckily, once the film was finally developed, the sequence turned out to be perfect.
  • What an Idiot!: Bond is being all sneaky-like on the eponymous space station when he runs into Jaws, known for toughness and his metal teeth.
    You'd expect That Bond would try hitting a weak spot, evading him, or use his poison wrist dart gun to dispose of him.
    Instead He punches Jaws in the teeth. Nice going, James. One connection and a "CLANG" sound, and Bond's hand is in agony.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Drax kills his secretary by having her be eaten alive by his dogs. Bond also murders two scientists with nerve gas for the heinous crime of working for the villain. And then there's the final scene where Bond, er, "attempts re-entry".
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: The heroes' school bus yellow spacesuits and matching Chuck Taylors has raised some eyebrows.


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