TL;DR – Conceptionally, this is an interesting film, but I am not sure it makes the leap from concept to the final film.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.
Shadow In The Cloud Review –
Well, today, we look at a film that is clearly swinging for the fences in what it wants to do. It’s a wild ride, like anything experimental, but like some experiments, it doesn’t quite work in places.
So to set the scene, we open in World War 2 with a short cartoon reminding everyone that there is no such thing as gremlins, and only airmen can stop disasters in the sky. At an Allied Airbase in Auckland, a B-17 bomber called The Fool’s Errand is waiting to take transistors to Apia, Samoa. However, just before they take off, Flying Officer Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz) arrives with a broken arm, a mysterious package, and secrecy orders. The crew is quite miffed about the change of plans, but they relent, and the plane takes off, with Maude in the Sperry Ball turret on the bottom of the aircraft. Her goal is working until they see some Japanese planes and a creature crawling on the wing.
Before I talk about what went wrong, I want to clarify that this is not a terrible film, just one that does not hit where it is aiming. First, Chloë Grace Moretz completely commits to her role, which is essential because she is the audience insert character and the one we spend the most time with. Also, it has been a while since I’ve seen a film set during WW2, especially on a B-17 bomber. The details create a fantastic backdrop for the narrative. It is also positioned slightly differently than normal in the South Pacific, which we do usually see. The action and dogfights are well-produced, making the most of the almost claustrophobic setting and the creature design that felt both monstrous and grounded was a delight.
However, while this was an exciting film, experimenting with place and structure, it was also the area where it was let down. For a good 40 minutes of the runtime, we are stuck with Maude as she is stuck in the turret, with the rest of the cast only appearing on the radio. A standard film would likely cut between what was happening inside and outside the turret, but we stay fixed. This direction does give us the most time to connect with Maude, but the film does not do a great job of differentiating all the rest of the cast beforehand, and while they try to fix this with inserts, I struggled to like characters and voices.
These issues also extend to the production of the film. The WW2 setting clashes with the modern electronic soundtrack, I know they were going for a juxtaposition, but it ended up more in tonal dissonance territory. As well as this, the narrative felt crowded with the gremlin, the Japanese, and the mystery around the package. There was enough thematic story that it didn’t need both the gremlins and the Japanese. This also would have given the film the focus it desperately needed in parts.
In the end, do we recommend Shadow In The Cloud? Look, I feel bad saying no because there was clearly a lot of passion behind this project, and it was trying something different. I just don’t think it comes together even if the presentation is good, and it has the silliest survivor moment in cinema. If you liked Shadow in the Cloud, I would also recommend to you The Battleship Island.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Shadow In The Cloud
Directed by – Roseanne Liang
Written by – Max Landis & Roseanne Liang
Screenplay by –
Music by – Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper
Cinematography by – Kit Fraser
Edited by – Tom Eagles
Production/Distribution Companies – Automatik Entertainment, Four Knights Film, Endeavor Content, Rhea Films, New Zealand Film Commission, Fulcrum Media Finance, Screen Auckland & Roadshow Films.
Starring – Chloë Grace Moretz, Taylor John Smith, Beulah Koale, Nick Robinson, Callan Mulvey, Benedict Wall, Joe Witkowski & Byron Coll
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 16+; Germany: 16; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R