6. Moonraker (1979)
The release of a certain space opera by the name of Star Wars two years earlier changed everything. Forgoing their plans to immediately follow The Spy Who Loved Me with For Your Eyes Only, the producers chose instead to adapt a Fleming novel that would allow them to take full advantage of the sudden sci-fi obsession: Moonraker.
Sending James Bond into space was always one of the more outrageous moves undertaken over the course of the franchise, but then, aping contemporary trends and crazes was consistently a staple of James Bond, particularly Roger Moore’s era. This film pits Bond against a diabolical genius intent on wiping out humanity from space and ruling over the new world.
Sound familiar? It’s a copy of a Bond plot we’ve seen before, and it makes no attempt to disguise that fact. By this time, the Bond pictures were firmly entrenched as purely fantastical entities, but Moonraker at times takes it to the extreme in a film that also features a double-taking pigeon and the sight of the fearsome Jaws falling head over heels for a very tiny woman.
It’s too directly derivative of the film that came before it to hold up particularly well on its own, following the template of the established formula all the way to its climax. Outside of a memorable villainous turn by Michael Lonsdale, the typically gorgeous locales, and a breathtaking opening stunt, there’s really not much to cement Moonraker as a Bond classic.
Best Moore Moment: Flashing a toothy grin at Jaws upon their encounter in a Rio de Janeiro alleyway. Only Sir Roger could find such levity in the umpteenth meeting between Bond and an extremely dangerous foe.