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Moonraker - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review

by Casimir Harlow Oct 25, 2012


Movies review

19

  • Movie
  • Blu-ray
Movie: Moonraker

Title: Moonraker
Media: Blu-ray
Region:A
Country:USA
Certificate:PG
Running Time:126 minutes
Sound:English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
English Dolby Surround
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin
Extras:• Audio Commentary Featuring Sir Roger Moore
• Audio Commentary Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert and Members of the Cast and Crew
• 007 In Rio - Original 1979 Production Featurette
• Bond ’79 Featurette
• Ken Adam’s Production Films
• Learning to Freefall - Sky Diving Test Footage
• Sky Diving Storyboards
• Circus Footage
• Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 1
• Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 2
• Inside Moonraker - An Original Documentary
• The Men Behind the Mayhem - Special Effects Documentary
• Theatrical Trailer

Picture

The Lowry Digital restorations done for these Bond titles can be somewhat hit and miss, but the 4K restoration done for Moonraker is up there with the more impressive ones, leaving the movie looking far better than it has ever done before. Hitting Blu-ray as part of the Bond 50 Collection, this transfer is the same as fans had on the earlier standalone releases, presenting the movie in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1.

Cleaned up but far from scrubbed of its detail, Moonraker looks extremely impressive – arguably one of the best-looking of the Moore entries – with decent fine object detail, texturing and setting observations. DNR has been used, but never glaringly so (unlike some of the other Lowry restorations like The Man with the Golden Gun) and there are no digital artifacts plaguing the presentation – no edge enhancement, crush, ringing or blocking. The colour scheme is lavishly rendered, from the interiors of Drax’s chateau to the steely futuristic designs of the space stations; from the flesh tones (which are, for the most part, healthy, but which occasionally veer towards a more pinkish hue) to the gorgeous Rio vistas. Blacks are strong, with largely good contrast and a suitably filmic layer of grain rounding out the piece. It’s certainly up there with the better Bond restorations and undoubtedly better than this movie has ever looked before.



Sound

On the aural front the accompanying 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio remix is almost as impressive as the video presentation, and – considering that this is one of the best Bond scores (getting the Bond theme / scoring just right for the movie – it’s a welcome blessing that Moonraker sound so damn good on Blu-ray. Dialogue gets clear and coherent presentation, largely dominating the frontal array where appropriate. The effects are given decent coverage, from the breaking of glass to the straining of lift cables, to the blasting of space shuttle rockets and the twangy buzz of lasers. Although the action scenes certainly fare best – the boat chase, the sky-diving pre-credits sequence, and the space battles – there’s also some welcome atmosphere generated during the crowd sequences, from Venice to Rio. The score, of course, gets the most prominence – and rightly so for such a brilliant accompaniment – and with a nice level of LFE input this is a very good audio presentation, impressive and certainly the best that this movie has ever sounded.



Extras

This new Bond 50 Box Set comes complete with all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras ported over (as well as some new material on a further disc in the set). Far from bad news, the old UE releases pretty-much offered up definitive background material for each title, and Moonraker was certainly one of the chapters that was particularly well treated.

Sporting two compelling Commentaries – one by the Crew, and one by Bond star Sir. Roger Moore himself – we also had a number of informative background Featurettes and Documentaries, as well as a hefty amount of promotional material. Fans of the film will no doubt know all about these offerings; newcomers couldn’t want for more.

Commentaries

Commentary by Sir. Roger Moore – one of Moore’s best commentaries sees him chat informally about the production, the character changes, the casting, the massive sets and augmented budget and the fun they had during the production.

Commentary by Director Lewis Gilbert and the Crew – the more dry and technical offering this allows us some background into the production.

Declassified: MI6 Vault

007 in Rio – Original 1979 Production Featurette offers 13 minutes of archive Featurette padded out with clips from the film.

Bond ’79 – 12 minute collection of on-set interviews from the cast and crew.

Ken Adam’s Production Films – 12 minutes of location scouting and behind the scenes clips.

Learning to Freefall: Skydiving Test Footage – 4 minute look at the test stunts for the opening sequence.

Skydiving Storyboards – for that key sequence.

Circus Footage – a minute of footage from the actual circus incorporated into the pre-credits sequence finale.

Cable Car Alternative Storyboards – 2 alternate storyboards for this key sequence.

007 Mission Control

The usual sub-sections on 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch and Exotic Locations.

Mission Dossier

Inside Moonraker – An Original Documentary is a whopping 42-minute Documentary into this production, charting the history of the script, the contributions from the original book, the new ideas and the grand new movie.

The Men Behind the Mayhem – Special Effects Documentary looks specifically at the effects and the men that made them work.

Ministry of Propaganda

Release Trailer

Image Database

The disc is rounded off by a nice Photo Gallery showcasing the production.



Verdict

“Mr. Bond, you persist in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you.”

I love Moonraker. All too easy to dismiss because of the over-the-top space battle at the end, Bond fans often overlook the near-perfect Bond adventure that preceded that extravagance. Sure, Moonraker was fast-tracked because of the success of Star Wars, but it also boasted then-state-of-the-art technology and unprecedented stunts: viewers got to see Space Shuttles in action two years before the first test launch, and were blown away by the sky-diving pre-credits sequence – just two elements which we take for granted now, but which were way before their time back in 1979. Add to that a superb Bond villain, the return of Jaws, a strong Bond girl and Roger Moore on top form and you have not only one of Moore’s best Bond flicks but also one of the best Bond films of all time. Don’t just dismiss this as pure cheese – it’s far better than that; it’s You Only Live Twice but with teeth; it’s Bond only bigger and bolder than anything before, and than anything since too.

As part of the Bond 50 set, Moonraker comes with one of the best Lowry restorations from the Moore era, a 4K rendition which has been cleaned up impressively. The audio doesn’t disappoint either. It’s a considerable step up from DVD and fans will be pleased that all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras have been ported over here.

Bond has been served well by a phenomenal box-set, timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th Anniversary of the franchise. Moonraker forms part of the set along with the other twenty-two films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, and contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features further examining our favourite super-spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.


The Rundown

Movie

9

Picture Quality

8

Sound Quality

8

Extras

8

Overall

9

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges here.


    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot News Supplying Robot Staff Member

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      “His dream will come true someday”

      After the undeniable commercial (and critical) success of The Spy Who Loved Me – the highest grossing Bond thus far – the filmmakers discarded the loose back-up plan to reboot the franchise with a new actor. It was, after all, the end of Moore’s 3-film contract, and, if his third film had been as disappointing as The Man with the Golden Gun, they’d have probably gone with a new Bond, using the more back-to-basics For Your Eyes Only as an introductory vehicle (as tentatively promised in the credits of The Spy Who Loved Me). However, instead of just proceeding with For Your Eyes Only with Moore still in-place, they decided to go in another direction.

      The monumental, unprecedented success of 1977’s Star Wars had...


      Read the full review...
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    2. zetmoon

      zetmoon Member

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      Nice to see a review from someone who actually likes this film
      but I think it's a step too far to call it one of the best Bond movies ever.....

      It has its moments but overall it can get pretty ridiculous.
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    3. Doctor Hades

      Doctor Hades Active Member

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      Fantastic review. I completely agree with everything the reviewer wrote about this much-criticised Bond movie which also just happens to be one of my favourites too. I saw this at the cinema in 1979 as a teenager, at a time when SF was hugely popular, so I've grown very fond of it over the years. I've never understood quite why it inspires such hatred from some people. I've always assumed it came from Roger Moore not being the most popular of Bonds so it became fashionable to hate all his movies.

      It is one of the most entertaining Bonds to date IMO and still looks great even now. The space scenes were terrific as was the design of the space station. Sure, some of the humour is a little cringe-worthy (the double taking pigeon for example) and I sometimes wish the scenes with that girl with braces that falls in love with Jaws were not in the movie as I found them hugely embarrassing to watch and bordering on absurd/ridiculous, even as a child. That said, I had nothing against Jaws becoming good as he was a terrific character and there's only so many times they could have brought him back. Better that he was turned and lived happily ever after I guess than killed. It makes for a much more memorable character with his redemption storyline. And Hugo Drax is certainly up there with the best Bond villains, especially as he gets a lot of scenes and some great lines as the review points out. :thumbsup:
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      Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
    4. Jim Di Griz

      Jim Di Griz Active Member

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      Fantastic review Cas!

      I had kind of decided to buy this on blu anyway (it was my favourite Bond as a kid and its not hard to work out why!) but your review has made me want to own it on blu even more!

      Its not my favourite Bond and its not the best Bond in my opinion but Im sure Im going to love it just as much as I used to when I buy it. :smashin:
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    5. LicensedTaximan

      LicensedTaximan Active Member

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      A great review sir, I always considered this film to be one of the top ones, even though by todays standards or even then given the original Star Wars and ILM's work, that the effects are not always quite up there including some dodgy backscreen shots.

      As regards to "the villian" as portrayed by Michael Lonsdale, I have always felt with those great one liners and the longer quotes, that he was simply the best protaganist they've had so far, putting aside "Skyfall" which most of us haven't seen yet. The way he played the part with almost a look of boredom of "**** you" but with great putdown, a distained look and an air of resigned superiority but without actually having to say it.

      There is one scene where he felt that out of all the great innovotive achievments that have happend in the world "tea and cucumber sandwiches" were one of GB's greatest additions to world culture....classic.
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      Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2012
    6. LicensedTaximan

      LicensedTaximan Active Member

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      I'll remember NOT to put in the odd one or two letters next time, and leave it to the fertile imagination.....apologies. :blush: :lesson:
    7. domtheone

      domtheone Active Member

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      Great review Cas.

      You may get some flack for a 9 score from some parts but not here. Easily in my top 5.

      Ok it's a bit:rolleyes: silly here and there but it's fantastically entertaining. Moore on form. Gorgeous (Dr Goodhead:laugh:) girls and Jaws! Doesn't get much better.

      Actually it does, Classic Barry score. The amazon chase/music score is perfection.

      I'd read, before I got it some years back, that the PQ was very good. So good in fact it's all too easy to see the parachutes on the skydivers:laugh:

      I'm going to watch it again tomorrow night after reading/thinking about it:thumbsup:

      edit: How could i forget, it's even got Concorde in it:clap:
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      Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
    8. bosque

      bosque Active Member

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      The Moore Bonds just got worse and worse until they nearly killed off the franchise.
    9. Garrett

      Garrett Moderator

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      As Iv said in the movies forum there's a great Bond film there trying to get out but there way too much cheese in it to overlook, as well as the one you mention The girl Jaws takes a shine to and the music.

      Off hand I cant think of any better quips coming from a villain in the franchise other than Goldfingers I expect you to die line than some of Drax.Look after Mr Bond, see some harm comes to him.

      There some great set scenes the opener ruined by what happens just before the credits. The Cable Car, the Waterfall which you mention in the review.

      The comment Timothy Dalton would be looking for the exit when facing Jaws, well he was more ruthless than Rogers portrayal, the only way he be looking for an exit would be to kick Jaws though it:laugh:
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    10. Geoff_D

      Geoff_D Well-Known Member

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      I can't quite agree with the PQ score, Cas. There's lots of frozen grain hanging in the background (thanks Lowry!) and the colour seems a bit off, e.g. fleshtones take on a pinky, candy-coloured hue at times, which you can actually see in the cap of Jaws in your review.

      IIRC Robert Harris said that the negative for this one was in less than ideal condition, so it's still a decent presentation for what it is, but it's 7 out of 10 for me.
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    11. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

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      Thanks Geoff,

      You're right, I was being a bit optimistic about a demo quality rating and have thus knocked it down a notch. It's always tough to choose between rating it in comparison with the best looking presentations full stop, or just as the best looking this movie has ever been, which it certainly is.

      Still, it's one of the better Moore renditions, behind SWLM and LALD, but better than the rest, IMHO.

      Appreciate your feedback,

      Cheers, Cas
    12. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

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      Well I actually I expected it to be far more cheesy than it was. I had my expectations set pretty low when revisiting this, and found it to be one of the best to look back on (certainly better than any of Brosnan's, which I was shocked by because they are far more recent). Perhaps it depends how much cheese you can swallow, for me the scenes were still great even if they were rounded off with silly frills. Bond spectacle certainly doesn't get much better or bigger than this.

      As for Dalton, it wasn't a slight against the guy - just a matter of tactics. Connery was the bulldog; Moore was irrepressibly cool under fire; I'd like to think Dalton wouldn't try and kick Jaws because he's cleverer than that - hence looking for an exit...

      Cheers for your comments,
      Cas
    13. Geoff_D

      Geoff_D Well-Known Member

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      No worries man. It's funny how similar this Blu-ray image is to Star Wars, actually. They were lensed a couple of years apart, natch, but they would've been worked on at the same time at Lowry, and they both share the iffy grain and wildly variable skin tones (brown/orange/pink etc).
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    14. BRW

      BRW Member

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      I'm a little bit surprised about the rating Cas but it's a well argued review.

      I always remembered this as beings fun movie when I was a kid but dismissed it more as an adult. I have to confess that I probably haven't seen it in well over a decade, so it's difficult to have an updated opinion. I just assumed it was cheesy space Bond.

      Then again I always dismissed Moore for the same reasons, but you appear to hold him in high regard.

      Loving the craig Bonds as I do I can't imagine appreciating revisiting this one quite as much as you make out but I have to say youve got me intrigued.
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    15. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

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      Have you got the new Bond 50 Box Set? If so then it's well worth revisiting Moonraker, it was an unexpectedly good re-watch for me.

      I don't really know what has changed over the years, but I've found the films with Dalton, Moore and even Lazenby the most pleasant to re-discover this time around. Conversely, those with Brosnan and even Connery feel dated and maybe a little sleazy. Of course Craig's reboot trilogy is par excellence, but that doesn't diminish the enjoyment of some of these older classics. For me, Moonraker has now well and truly secured a place amongst them. Pure Bond spectacle. Give it another shot...

      Cheers, Cas
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    16. BRW

      BRW Member

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      Will do. This box set is on my Christmas list and I'm looking forward to working my way through it. Still uncertain about moonraker but we'll see, it certainly seems to have some fans.
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    17. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

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      Well do let us know whether it magically improves in your esteem :thumbsup:
    18. Garrett

      Garrett Moderator

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      Right I watched this last night and it was either in my subconscious what you wrote Cas or my sitting down with no disturbances but I started the film just before 9pm and looking at the clock at 10pm though wow there was certainly a lot happening in that first hour. At 10.30 when he set off for space I though this is going to end soon and found an other half hour had to go.

      The first 3/4 of the film does fly by as I say the cheese does take the shine of what could have been one of the best Bond films although this was the worst Bond films till Quantum of Solace and Skyfall came along I think I wont give it that place any more.

      There are a few things that would have made it better the countless gags in Venice with the gondola, the girl with Jaws could have just been a tad less dead obvious that she would not have fit Drax's standards and the music played when Jaws meets her, The music used for riding across the pampas and some of the silly stuff with Q branch which is in a lot of Bond films.
      The last half hour was purely jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon I could almost hear a little voice (use the force James):laugh:.
      The opening scene in the plane was a stunner but spoilt
      by Jaws flapping his hands and landing on a tent.
      Good grief what did the damage come to in the glass factory probably 10 times more than Bofeld was asking as blackmail in Thunderball.:eek:

      Any one old enough will may have spotted the late Arthur Howard (Cavandish Drax's butler) from Whack-O who was Pettigrew.:smashin:

      Although not as abundant individual the ladies where quite nice and as you say Cas its a shame Lois Chiles did not get more chance to wear nice dresses and wonder how she would have been as agent XXX as she certainly looked as though she could handle herself better than the demure Barbara Bach. Looking up on IDMD at the other roles as I could not remember seeing her in much other than Dallas, Coma, and a horror film see she had breast cancer but fought it and Quote She is very active in raising money for the research and prevention of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

      I spotted the RAF Pilot (Kim Fortune) at the start of the film was the officer in TSWLM who stormed the steps in the ship. Also Manuela (Emily Bolton) the girl in Rio appeared in Crossroads as Kim also did.

      Had to choke back a lot of laughter when the what seemed to be rottweiler/alsatian crosses turned up my 5 month pup sat bolt upright watching the tv tilting his head now and then trying to make out what was going on and watched it till the end of Venice part. Shame about
      Corinne Cléry she was practically an unwilling accomplice to Bond yet got killed for it by Drax:(

      Did any one noticed the backing of the end title song was very reminiscent of that used for The Deep?

      The film quality looked very good and the ones in Brazil when in the country excellent although the sharpness did show a few bad things like Drax's plant looked like something out of Thunderbirds, some back projection and the sliding down the cable car cable looked positively terrible, and why did Jaws bite that cable when both cars where being controlled from below? By the way Richard Kiel in an interview said the cable he bit though was licorice.

      Any reptiles experts reading this? But would that be an anaconda not a python as Drax's pet coming from South America!

      Roger was showing his age a bit more but still looked good and as a person that likes nice clothes always a pleasure to see Bonds cloths.
      Michael Lonsdale an other great villain and thought how well he pulls the role off with ease far better than Jonathan Pryce who I always considered a good actor as a weak villain.

      Any way in-spite of the faults mentioned and not being the best Bond film passed 2 hours very quick:thumbsup:


      EDIT

      Are Bond bosses perverts they are always peeing in when hes making love at the end of the films and how the heck did they have cameras all over in the shuttle of the enemies? And how did Jaw and friend
      get back to Earth you need shields and a reentry path as too steep and you burn up to shallow you bounce back into space and wouldn't you need parachutes on it or would that end up on a circus tent.
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      Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
    19. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

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      Thanks mate, glad you enjoyed it! Or at least enjoyed it better than before!

      Yes I think that, without the cheese, it would have more easily graduated to many fans' best-Bond lists. For good or bad I can generally see past that, which is perhaps why I rate it so highly. For a 'fun' action-adventure-style Bond, it doesn't get much better than this.

      Cheers, Cas
  • Production

    Type Blu-ray
    Region
    Country UK
    Certificate PG
    Number of Discs 1
    Running Time 126 Minutes
    Release Date 20120924
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