The main character’s in for a real nightmare.
Shadow in the Cloud follows Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz), a Flight Officer fighting alongside the Allies in WWII. At the very last minute, she boards the Fool’s Errand, a bomber plane, with a mysterious package and note saying she will accompany the crew. Given the lack of space on the aircraft, the only place to go is down in the turret, where things steadily go from bad to worse for her.
For one, several turret pieces are either broken or gone, including the one that would let her get out. Then she notices something on the wing of the plane. Could it be a gremlin? As heavily foreshadowed by the cartoon at the beginning of the movie. Somewhat unnecessarily, given that all of the cartoon’s exposition is worked into the dialogue later in the film. Yes, yes it could be a gremlin.
So to recap, Maude’s stuck in the turret, there’s a monster outside that no one else believes exists, the rest of the crew is unable or unwilling to get her out, and she’s unable to contact William Shatner or John Lithgow, who both have experience with this kind of thing. What follows is a fight for survival featuring beautifully crafted tension.
A plot twist late in the movie is that the package Maude carried aboard contains (spoiler) her baby. It turns out the only reason she’s on the plane is that Maude’s running away from her abusive husband. I must say, I love the fact that Maude’s a mom. Women in fiction are either fully traditionally masculine or fully traditionally feminine, rarely both. Maude, however, is allowed to be both tough and nurturing. (/spoiler) That’s one of the things that makes Ripley (NSFW) so great.
Having Maude be on her own for so much of the film is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it helps highlight the character’s isolation. A curse because only interacting with the others through a radio leaves the rest of the crew a little undeveloped. They’re all pretty much just sexist jerks that I’m unable to tell apart. The only exception is Taggert (Byron Coll), thanks to his thick Scottish accent, and Quaid (Taylor John Smith), the token nice one/obvious love interest. (spoiler) Though we later find out that the reason Quaid’s so nice was that he and Maude were previously in a relationship, hence the baby. Thus making his role as the OLI much more believable than it otherwise would be. (/spoiler)
So, I liked this movie, but I like to have my reviews at a certain word count. So strap-in and get ready for nitpicking.
There are several moments of this film that strain willing suspension of disbelief. Such as when Maude climbs out under the wing of the plane with an injured shoulder and finger for who knows how long. There’s also the part where Maude falls out of the plane but is then blown back into the plane by an exploding enemy fighter jet. (spoiler) The baby surviving against all odds is a little ridiculous. (/spoiler) There’s also a couple of scenes that go on perhaps a little too long.
But again, nitpicking, because this is a fine movie. It’s entertaining, empowering, and Moretz has yet to be bad in anything I’ve seen her in. If you need a new film to watch with a great female lead to close out International Women’s Day, I would check out Shadow in the Cloud.