On a stormy night during World War II, a female pilot with top secret cargo talks her way on board a bomber plane about to take-off. The crass all-male crew reluctantly agrees, but their suspicions about her identity and the mysterious cargo quickly grow. Just then a shadow appears in the clouds - was it the incoming Japanese fleet? Or caused by some other sinister stowaway?
The animated segment at the beginning of the film is based on Private Snafu, a series of adult-oriented instructional shorts meant to educate enlisted personnel on army discretion, hygiene, combat readiness and daily life. They were produced between 1943 and 1945, and given they were not meant to be public, were free from censorship restrictions. The title character, parodied in the film, come from the military acronym "Situation Normal All Fucked Up". See more »
The B-17 depicted is a G model, which did not operate in the Pacific Theater. See more »
Flawed Exploitation Enjoyment with a Solid Main Performance
"Shadow in the Cloud" has the honor of being the first major movie release of 2021, on the very first of January, and it was very welcome as far as I'm concerned. It is an often choice for studios to drop the movies they don't have a lotta faith in early in the year, and, as expected (courtesy of the so-so trailer), "Shadow in the Cloud" is a flawed adventure, but an entertaining one. To me it seems that critics woke up in such excellent spirits that the flaws are easier to assign less weight to, and the general audience is getting hanged up on gender problems of this film, a film that doesn't demand an in-depth analysis or much arguing. It is someplace inbetween, where this shlocky B voyage lands itself.
Flight Officer Garrett (Chloe Grace Moretz) has a secret mission, and an assignment to join Captain Reeves's team on his plane, aptly named "The Fool's Errand". Guys are, of course, shocked seeing a woman climb on-board, and for much of the movie, "Shadow in the Cloud" will poke a lot of fun at men being stupid and naughty, wherein lies the bothers of all those 1/10 reviews. As the crew is making peace with their newest addition, they put her in the "aquarium" or the small cockpit with big guns under the plane. This is where we'll spend first half of the film, the set-up a.k.a. the better part of the film.
Full disclosure, "Shadow in the Cloud" is hardly ever realistic or very hard on serious social commentary, it's a B-kind of shlock horror, just without much horror in this case, but the mechanics of the world are comic-book worthy, and, as a sum, it is mostly self-aware popcorn fun, infused with women-empowering lead like many exploitation flicks in the decades before this.
And so "Shadow in the Cloud" has just enough fun, somehow mostly exactly when camera doesn't leave Chloe stuck in that cockpit for the first two acts. The plot, however slowly and shallowly, develops from there, through the commendable acting of Chloe Grace Moretz. Such a solid performance definitely deserved a better movie, but it also helps a worse one. Say what You will, but she's a fine actress. So, carrying a lot of emotion and not very surprising twists, she fights jokesters and gremlins, the latter of which ultimately has very little place and meaning in "Shadow in the Cloud". The horror element rests. The third act is all bullets, explosions, fights and deaths, but it's also the least surprising and least tense act. Gremlins are also the only manifestations of iffy cgi, graphical inconsistencies. Style is a 50/50 factor for this movie, I liked the cinematography, and the synth hey-it's-the-80's soundtrack, though I couldn't figure if it feels displaced or not. For a movie tributing the 80's, it's not 80's enough. Though, being over-the-top and a little ridiculous, maybe it is 80's enough... Sound editing is odd at times, during scenes outside of a flying plane, where there should be screams of skies storming, we kind of have an awkward silence, as if a couple sound layers were muted.
There's a trivial backstory on why perhaps there's such discussion and dissatisfaction with the feminist nature of this film, it was originally written by Max Landis. Max Landis is now dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, and the script got heavily rewritten by director Roseanne Liang. You may entertain a couple of scenarios with this information, but personally I don't see any big problems with "Shadow in the Cloud" in regards to what's being so criticized.
"Shadow in the Cloud" is more expensive looking B blockbuster, straight-forward popcorn entertainment, a typical but thin creature feature, a ww2 action romp in the skies, and, really, not the worst offering in the first days of new hope. 2021, I mean. My rating: 5/10.
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