Shadow in the Cloud

Written by Nick McCann

68/100

You ever get that feeling where you got what you wanted but just not how you were expecting it? I’m feeling that feel. When I first saw the trailer to this movie, I was all about the potential it gave off! World War 2. Creature feature. Female power trip. This can only be crazy fun. And it is! Albeit in the strangest way.

The mood starts off nicely with a wartime Hanna Barbara-styled propaganda cartoon and some sweet synthesizer beats. It builds up a pulpy B-movie atmosphere that carries on throughout, especially in a suspenseful first act. But at a certain point, certain plot reveals gradually build to a level of craziness that I didn’t expect. It’s all about the approach. I figured it would be a lot more of flying beasts vs. bomber crew instead of what writer Max Landis and director Roseanne Liang came up with. And yet, I isn’t much of a drag. Yeah I suppose it’s tonally inconsistent and overall nonsensical in areas. But when it commits this hard to an original execution like this, I can’t help but enjoy myself.

There’s also the usual monster movie suspects in the character roster. Chloe Grace Moretz is our near-perfect action heroine of the hour and she does a fine job, sans some overacting in the action sequences. Regardless of that and her overpowered writing, she keeps the movie going. Her male co stars are also fine. However they go in on aggression! Coupled with surprisingly limited screen time, they become a bunch of interchangeable anger vessels except for some particular players. Get used to a lot of radio voice work from them.

Thankfully action scenes are in steady supply. They are entertaining for how wildly absurd they get. We’re talking physics defying stuff here that still looks entertaining. Visual effects are decent and the slick camera shots are put together well in editing. All injected with an ultradose of female power fantasy that you better get ready for if you aren’t yet. As for the creature itself, it’s not half bad looking. It’s design gets the job done and never feels secondary to everything else for too long. Pretty refreshing too to see it prominent in frame more often than not.

I should also comment on the score. A synth soundtrack for a setting like this is definitely jarring. For the pulp atmosphere the movie gives off though, it’s nicely done. Key word there is “atmosphere.” The moodier portions where it’s background to quieter scenes are more effective than the action cues, where it has too fat of a beat. There’s also a couple music drops and they are too distracting. Almost making up for it is overall good sound design. Everything from gunfire to the rattle of the plane interior is mixed well.

Shadow in the Cloud is a movie that’ll depend on a few different elements if you decide to go ahead with a viewing. If you’re not expecting a pulpy female power fantasy that will go in a vastly different direction than what you’re expecting, you’re gonna shut it off immediately. That isn’t to say that it isn’t fun. There is mindless entertainment for how far out it gradually becomes. It isn’t perfect, but I can’t deny the giddiness I felt. It’s possible I just witnessed a fever dream of a test to see what can be done with film. That or my brain is like a melted slushie now.

Shadow in the Cloud Trailer

Shadow in the Cloud is currently streaming on Hulu and Kanopy.

You can connect with Nick on his social media profiles: Facebook and Letterboxd.

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