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MOONRAKER ($25) has always struck me as a rather weak and goofy entry in the James Bond series, that is until I saw MGM's THX certified DVD edition of the film. All I can say is that an excellent presentation goes a long way to enhance ones overall opinion of a film. This marvelous DVD made me enjoy MOONRAKER more than I ever have in the past. MOONRAKER was released in 1979 and judging by the plot, it’s rather obvious that the producers wanted to cash in on the outer space frenzy created by the STAR WARS phenomenon.

In MOONRAKER, Roger Moore uses his tongue-in-cheek approach to James Bond to good effect, in this literally out of this world adventure. During the pre-credit sequence, an American space shuttle named Moonraker is hijacked during a piggyback transport flight to Great Britain. The British government puts Bond on the case, with all roads leading back to Drax Industries, the company that built the Moonraker space shuttle. As it turns out, Drax is just another megalomaniac with a convoluted plan for world conquest. Drax intends to transport a hand-selected population of human breeding stock to his hidden space station, then eradicate all other human life on the planet. The film's outer space climax pushes credibility, but is fun as are the other action sequences. Michael Lonsdale is effective as Drax, but Lois Chiles is a bit bland as Bond girl Holly Goodhead. Jaws (Richard Kiel), the popular evil henchman from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME returns for more mayhem. The cast of MOONRAKER also features Corinne Clery, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell.

MGM Home Entertainment offers MOONRAKER in both Letterboxed and pan and scan presentations on separate layers of the single sided DVD. The pan and scan transfer crops far too much of the wide screen image to be worth watching. For those of you who must view this version, it is a bit softer and grainier than the Letterboxed transfer, but the color is respectable. The Letterboxed version of MOONRAKER is fantastic looking and frames the film very close to its original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. This version also features the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. On the Letterboxed edition, colors reproduce with naturally saturated hues, while the detailed image looks far better than any previous presentation of MOONRAKER. Digital compression artifacts were hardly detectable on the Letterboxed version and only slightly more noticeable on the cropped edition.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel remixed soundtrack is pleasing for a film of this vintage, but no one will mistake this track for GOLDENEYE or TOMORROW NEVER DIES. Still the track does offer good separation, and the music is greatly enhanced by the Dolby Digital deployment. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround compatible track and a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus are animated and include a "making of" featurette, a theatrical trailer and a number of other fun features you’ll want to discover on your own.

As I stated above, the presentation of MOONRAKER on this THX certified DVD greatly enhances the film. If you are a Bond fan, don't hesitate to add this DVD to you collection. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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