Friday, June 19, 2015

Moonraker (1979) | Villains



Hugo Drax has always been a villain I've loathed, but he's slowly forcing his way into my Love to Hate category. He's sort of lame, because he's just repeating Stromberg's motivations from the last movie, but more than that he's frustrating for being so undeservedly arrogant. He obviously has some intelligence, but you can't tell it from the way he conducts himself with Bond. There's something about him though and unlike Stromberg, certainly no one can claim that he's boring.

I've already mentioned how little information Bond has to go on in the Moonraker case. He shows up at Drax Industries grasping at straws and Drax immediately starts trying to have Bond killed. Bond knows nothing, and Drax hands him everything. His stupidity extends to his keeping around Chang, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Drax irritates me from his very first scene. He's stolen his own space shuttle and he has the balls to act snotty about Britain's "losing" it. He's so tickled over his stupid paraphrase of Oscar Wilde's quote about parents. The man gets under my skin on a personal level and that's as much Michael Lonsdale's performance as it is the way he's written. I hate Drax. I hate his stupid face. The scary thing is that that may mean he's the most effective Bond villain ever, but I hate him too much to let him have that.

One moment makes me feel something for Drax other than seething malice. After all the stupid ways he's tried to kill Bond - by flight simulator, by hunting "accident," by freaking Coffin Gondola and anaconda - he complains that Bond persists "in defying my efforts to provide an amusing death for you." It's a wonderful moment of clarity for a character who's otherwise blind to his own faults.

AND the guy has an awesome hideout in an Amazon temple. So that's cool. I have no idea why he leads Bond right to it, but that's just the preposterous kind of person Drax is. I'm shocked that I'm actually going to put him in the Top Ten (for now), but he'll be low on the list.



Chang is the worst henchman ever. He's incompetent and clumsy, even when he's had time to prepare and surprise. He and Drax are peas in a pod.



Is Jaws the only henchman anymore? Stromberg hired him for The Spy Who Loved Me, then he was working for whomever Bond was investigating pre-Moonraker, and finally Drax hires him to replace Chang. I do like that he doesn't start off working for Drax. Drax's reaction when he finds out that Jaws is available is also pretty great. "Oh yes, well. If you can get him of course."

I notice that when Jaws attacks Bond at the cable car in Rio, he's got another bald accomplice with him like Sandor from The Spy Who Loved Me. I'm tempted to read too much into that, but don't have the energy.

Another cool thing is the creepy clown costume that Jaws wears during Carnaval. He cuts a horrifying figure as he silently shambles through the crowds of people. Sort of reminds me of Michael Myers in Halloween actually.

One really weird thing is that Jaws' teeth apparently aren't the only parts of his body that have been replaced with steel. Bond finds this out the hard way when he tries to kick Jaws in the balls. I wonder if Jaws' new girlfriend knows.

Which leads us to Dolly. Moonraker is a clash of tones and Jaws' girlfriend is the poster child for that. She's cartoonishly nerdy and silly; barely a character at all. But she brings real emotion to Jaws' story when he realizes that Drax is never going to let her live. The way I read that scene, I don't think Jaws is thinking about himself and his own place in Drax's future. He gives a significant look to Dolly and that's when he switches sides. Which is pretty great, because it means that Jaws' transformation is probably going to stick. If he was just out to save himself, we might expect to see him fighting Bond in a later movie. But Dolly has softened him and it's really sweet. I love that moment when he finally speaks and his voice is so gentle. Makes me wish we had seen Jaws later on, but as an ally.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
4. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
6. Doctor No (Dr. No)
7. Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me)
8. Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
9. Hugo Drax (Moonraker)
10. Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love)

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
2. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
3. Grant (From Russia with Love)
4. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me)
6. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
7. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)
8. Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
9. Miss Taro (Dr. No)
10. Tee Hee (Live and Let Die)

2 comments:

Monc said...

So... Hugo Drax looks a lot like Peter Dinklage. Just sayin'.

Michael May said...

Ha! You are NOT wrong.

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