Charged with a top-secret mission in 1940s New Zealand, female Flight Officer Maude Garrett elbows her way onto a bomber bound for Samoa. Made to feel unwelcome by the B-17 bomber crew, she has to sit out the flight in the plane’s bottom gun turret. However, once airborne it quickly becomes apparent that whilst the rest of her flight crew might not like to admit it, they are most definitely not alone…
… “This way there be dragons” or rather smaller variants which look-like adolescent bats with arms and legs. Of which, less of later.
Starting well with a nice eye for period detail, director Roseanne Liang‘s fantasy adventure film would seem intent on developing itself into a pressure cooker of secrets fuelled by misapprehension. Survivin the bomber crew’s hopelessly sexist and racist banter, it quickly shows that Chloë Grace Moretz‘s Maude is made of tough stuff. Trapped inside the rotating machine gun turret for much of the first half of the movie, it is really Moretz‘s performance that keeps both the story and your interest airborne for the rest of the journey.
Boots pressed up against the broken glass and with the world passing her by at 13,000, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s much more to this flight officer than she’s letting on. Ratcheting up the tension with each begrudging revelation, Moretz‘s face is the only canopy to focus on and possibly had it continued this sense of disorientation between Maude’s turret and the male-dominated world above her, there might have been a more “Tom Hardy” Locke-like drama to squeeze out of this movie’s flight time. But, alas no – because that’s not the flight of fantasy that Chloë Grace Moretz is chartered on. For “this way there be dragons” or rather smaller variants which look-like adolescent bats with arms and legs. Of which, less of later. You see in order to enjoy this flight, you need to throw away all sense of reality, physics and any common sense and embrace Shadow In The Cloud’s daftness for what it feels like – a comic book made into a movie.
Clumsily ricocheting off plot-points as quickly as fast they come, there’s really not a moment to lose in any adult reflection or absorption of the facts, such as they are. With its film-making mechanics very much on display and its Rosie-the-Riveter ambitions nailed to its dialogue, Shadow In The Cloud is fantasy fluff which should only be enjoyed as such.
This is because if you insist on going to looking for coherence, then it has to be said there isn’t much of a tail section when it comes to the closing series of explosions.
Finding much better fare on the ground, and with Chloë Grace Moretz in full-on Sigourney Weaver mode, the film finishes with what Independence Day‘s Will Smith might call “a close encounter” and a warm glow of motherhood. And if there is a moral to this story, it’s “don’t disagree with Chloë Grace Moretz because you’ll more than likely end up dead if you don’t listen to her”.
Loud, shamelessly dumb and making the most of both its budget and star, Shadow In The Cloud is a move that will satisfy neither the war-movie purists nor the full-on-fantasy crowd. However, if you can let go both then a good time is to be had.