James Bond and Moonraker (1979) – Christopher Wood

Christopher Wood brings us the novelisation of his screenplay for 007’s adventure in Moonraker, here titles James Bond and Moonraker so as not to be confused with the original Ian Fleming tale.

Once again, Wood makes efforts to find a happy balance between the literary version of the spy and his silver screen incarnation. And he succeeds for the most part, Bond is a smoker, his description is more in line with Fleming’s creation than Roger Moore, and a number of the sillier aspects of the film are toned down if not downright expunged in the novel.

Gone is the tussle with Jaws at the beginning of the film as they tumble out of a plane and fight for a parachute. The sequence is still there, but doesn’t feature a fight with Jaws, who doesn’t officially make an appearance until later in the book.

Most importantly, that stupid gondola hovercraft is nowhere to be seen, that chase sequence ends a little more abruptly and brutally, and no pigeon was seen doing a double take.

The plot is still the same, Bond is sent to investigate the theft of the space shuttle, Moonraker, which was built by Hugo Drax (who’s description is more akin to his appearance in the original novel than Michael Lonsdale). Arriving in America, he becomes mired in an investigation that reveals Drax’s plan to wipe out all human life on Earth and start fresh from a space station in orbit.

Joining Bond is astronaut, and CIA agent, Dr. Holly Goodhead, who doesn’t fare much better character wise than she did in the film. Corinne, Drax’s personal pilot is gone, replaced by a youthful blonde American named Trudi, though the both suffer the same fate as sacrifice.

Gone are the little pop culture references (though Bond makes an abysmal one on the station that wasn’t in the film – thank goodness), the sight gags (though Q’s workshop in South America is accounted for) and some of the more inane moments. But once Bond hits orbit, well, that still feels like a little much, and in this case, causes the story to come to a dead stop, as instead of focusing on the task, Holly and Bond work to elude Jaws, and consequently find themselves on an extended tour of the station from its commissary to its sleeping berths, despite the ticking clock.

The climax also features a whole sequence with Bond, in a spacesuit, outside the station working to stop a laser cannon from taking out a U.S. shuttle. That’s a little absurd.

Wood’s time with 007 came to an end with this film and novel, and the spy would rest until 1981 when he would be vaulted into the 80s by John Gardner with Licence Renewed because…

James Bond Will Return

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