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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Review: Shadow in the Cloud

Director: Roseanne Liang

Screenplay: Max Landis and Roseanne Liang

Year: 2021

In the middle of World War II, a woman pilot arrives at a British military airplane about to take off with a top-secret package. The crew has no other choice but to let her join, but their suspicions about her identity and what might be inside the package increasingly grows. But this is not their only problem, as a shadow in the clouds leads them to believe that they are about to be attacked by Japanese planes or by something much more sinister.

The first act is the best part of this movie, focused on Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) acting and establishing mysteries around the main character and the creature they encounter in the air. Surprisingly, Maude Garret burst into a British military plane carrying a top-secret package and a letter from a superior to let her go in. The crew allows her to join, but she has to sit in a small chamber where a machine gun can be operated. The reduced space and good use of the camera highlight the claustrophobia, particularly when the creature makes itself being felt.

The movie’s issues start to come out from this part, which I tried to ignore, but they only grew with time. The worst of them is the screenwriters’ Max Landis (“Chronicle”) and Roseanne Liang (“Do No Harm”) lack of subtlety for presenting the message of the movie. Since Maude gets into the plane, chauvinism and lack of respect towards women are extreme to where it comes out as unrealistic. Only with a few lines, the feminist message is evident in a story that tries to flip the stereotype of a woman in distress saved by a man.

I want to clarify that I have no problems with the feminist message, mainly when it uses a time and profession where this was worse than what it is today. My problem is with how forced it feels, and it reminded me that this was one of the issues that led the "Black Christmas" remake to failure last year. Unluckily, this is not the only problem that hinders the great potential that this movie had.

Once the action begins, the director Roseanne Liang loses any interest in making a realistic movie, and her only objective is to make her protagonist come out as strong as possible. Again we come back to the lack of subtlety issue. There are many ways to show a strong female protagonist, but the number of feats Maude pulls off in this movie makes Wonder Woman look like an ordinary person. Luckily for me, I identified early the suspension of reality that Liang brings, and I unplugged my brain. I think this is the only way to enjoy the nonsense that flourishes from there.

“Shadow in the Cloud” throws overboard a great idea, excellent acting, good visuals, and a fantastic soundtrack with its eagerness of getting across a feminist message in the least subtle way possible. Consequently, the movie ends up being exaggerated and unrealistic, and while this doesn't necessarily have to be a problem, in the way it happens here, it is. The best thing to do is to disconnect the brain and enjoy its story and message’s absurdity and campiness. Surely this is the complete opposite of what the director was looking for. 

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