Shadow in the Cloud (Action, War, Horror) (2020)
Director: Roseanne Liang
Writer: Roseanne Liang, Max Landis
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Taylor John Smith, Callan Mulvey, Beulah Koale
During a stormy night in 1943, a woman’s auxiliary air force pilot boards an allied plane called ‘’The Fool’s Errand’’ in a confidential, secret mission to transport a package. Her unannounced arrival to the aircraft meets skewed views and misogynistic comments as she’s ordered inside the bottom ball turret to keep her from interfering with the men.
Soon after Chloë Grace Moretz’s character is stowed away, the men above start blabbering on about the mysterious woman who just pushed her way onboard their plane. They quickly forget that inside the ball turret is a radio, and the opinionated and stern female pilot addresses their misogynistic behaviour.
With large parts of ‘’Shadow in the Cloud’’ taking place in the warplane or, more specifically, the ball turret focusing on Moretz and the male company on the radio, the film defines itself as a modern interpretation by director Roseanne Liang of feminism and heroics in WW2 era New Zealand. The historic visuals are paired with a synth score that seemed like a strange choice for a soundtrack depicting the movie as a piece that strays further and further from what would’ve been observed as a historical action film. The cramped turret sets the atmosphere as we advance as the derogatory remarks continue from the male crew. With the pacing clearly established, some supernatural/horror elements are introduced within the claustrophobic single location we’ll be seeing for the majority of the first act. The foreign subjects presented to make it even more apparent that this isn’t meant to be seen as a typical and accurate depiction of the global conflict that was World War 2; instead, a loosely based fantasy endeavour by its director, trying to establish the main character as an unapologetic powerhouse. From the point Moretz enters the turret to the eventual larger sets, various story elements are thrown at us, from the Japanese fighter planes looming below to a horrifying creature thought to be fairy-tale-like propaganda.
Its idiosyncratic features lead ‘’Shadow in the Cloud’’ from implausible to impossible, while segments remain entertaining in their own outlandish way the unfeasible chocks this movie up to a loss. The far-fetched plot twist introduced later in the film, accompanied by the sexism that has been strewn throughout, does nothing more than hone in on an overly feministic and action-packed story where the girl saves the day and the men are clueless jackals that couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag.
While the restricted area from the first act and the intense action and CGI feel good, the over-the-top nature only serving a feministic plot does more harm than good. Following Moretz from the time she was young, I must say it’s strange to see her in such an adult-themed role, nevertheless doing great in selling her stoic yet conflicted character.
This shadow leaves an imposing figure, but as with all shadows, nothing is left when turning the light on.