Moonraker - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The disc is rounded off by a nice Photo Gallery showcasing the production.
“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.
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