When I first heard about Shadow in the Cloud, a movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz and saw the poster, I knew just what type of a movie it’s going to be. I still watched it though. This being a New Zealand movie, my expectations were pretty high. From Bad Taste and Braindead over newer movies like Black Sheep, Housebound and phenomenal Deathgasm, I was expecting something original and engaging.
If you’re not a fan of this setting or are looking for an all-around good movie, just skip this one. That’s just the thing we do here at Rabbit Reviews, watch all kinds of movies so you know should you also. And this was that type of a movie, the story was celebrating feminism using the events of the Second World War to give it the necessary gruff and authenticity, just like I thought it would. However, this is not how the movie started.
The first half-hour of Shadow in the Cloud was intense and really engaging. Especially when you consider the fact that it was just our homegirl Chloe talking over comms with the rest of the crew. The dialogue was realistic and snappy, building characters with ease. Chloe was great here and nudged me towards watching the new Suspiria remake that I keep putting off. After we started getting towards the last third of the movie, it started making more and more mistakes. Characters were making crazy decisions, the plot started to fall apart and this shoving of “girls-can-do-it” attitude down our throats became too obnoxious.
As you probably know, I’m a sucker for movies set in one location and don’t get me started on creatures and WWII. At this point, I should probably recommend that you check out Overlord, a much better movie with a similar vibe. And Ghosts of War, that wasn’t so good but still watchable. You could almost say the same for this one. I mean, the pacing was good and special effects awesome along with pretty solid cinematography. The plot is another story altogether. If you watched that famous Buggs Bunny cartoon Falling Hare, you’ll have a sense of what’s about to unfold.
With a runtime of just seventy minutes, I was able to finish the movie. Mostly because of the shiny visuals and Chloe. They were clearly on to something with this movie, but it ultimately missed its mark by a wide margin. Writer, Max Landis, was accused of sexual and emotional abuse by eight women and Roseanne Liang, director of this movie, heavily edited his short script. These are the reasons why Shadow in the Cloud is the mess it is. It is much easier than we think to mess up a promising but very short script, especially if you’re trying to send a message.
If you want to make a movie with strong female characters, the story should not go straight for it. These things should develop unexpectedly and almost accidentally. For example, instead of going all-guns blazing and demanding a place on a plane as a pilot, Maude Garrett could have pretended to be exactly the woman the crew considered her to be. At the same time, you leave the audience thinking the same and perhaps put in some high intensity or visually engaging scenes right here to take their attention from this sleight of hand. Maude has an agenda and she’s able to intelligently maneuver the circumstances to her advantage, using the insults and this horrible behavior and even fueling it to make them do her bidding. The consequences are not only her managing to take off but also heavy disciplinary actions for allowing such things to unfold.
Next, we have the half-hour dialogue that can be altered just a bit to show just how fucked up of a situation is to fly a bomber during a world war and how easy is to die. You need to humanize the first villainized crew and make the viewer feel for them. To make them seem real, like someone they know who has done similar things and this brings the experience much closer to home.
You watch your friends get wounded or killed and this takes a toll on your sense of masculinity. Masculinity imprinted on you by generations of tribal society and harsh conditions. And now you’re in a war. You’re behaving in such a way not thinking and succumbing to the lowest possible drives. Something that’s not acceptable or productive but is happening. And to get out of it, it needs to be understood in full.
This is should be vocalized by someone, matter-of-factly explaining the situation and pulling everyone from their current tasks. By cutting deep with brutally honest reality you emotionally engage the viewers and you have your message. However, you must cut through the concepts of masculinity and go straight for that sweet jugular of the tribal society that created toxic masculinity. And can ultimately unmake it. But I shouldn’t get carried away here, this is not my script, I’m #justsaying.
If we remember Ripley from Alien and how she dealt with men treating her the way they did, we should have the blueprint for this. The goal is not to build a strong female character but to build a strong character that happens to be a female…
After all this thinking and analyzing, I can’t help but sympathize with the crew involved in making Shadow in the Cloud. They did their best and I really liked some of the potent concepts here, too bad the movie wasn’t as tight as it could have been. I hope they will learn from this and their next movie will be one of those classics that we will be talking about for decades.
Director: Roseanne Liang
Writers: Max Landis, Roseanne Liang
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Taylor John Smith, Callan Mulvey, Benedict Wall, Byron Coll
Fun Facts: In the film, Maude Garrett is assigned to fly aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress, however the bomber crew would have known her assignment was a forgery instantly as it was a widely known fact that women were not authorized to be members of combat aircrews during the Second World War. Likewise, Maude would also not possess any skill in shooting down enemy aircraft as depicted in the film since women at the time did not serve in combat positions.