Shadow in the Cloud (2020) – Film Review
Director: Roseanne Liang
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale
By Roger Crow
I’ve got a lot of time for ‘gremlins on a plane’ movies. Okay, it’s a niche genre with a long history. William Shatner starred in one of the best, a classic Twilight Zone episode (directed by Richard Donner). That was revamped for the 1983 movie and the recent TV series.
Alien was originally spawned from the idea of a gremlin on a World War Two bomber, which morphed into Ridley Scott’s peerless movie, though the original idea did wind up in the 1981 Heavy Metal film. And then there was a variation of sorts with The Mission, Steven Spielberg’s pilot film for mid-eighties TV anthology saga Amazing Stories. That’s the one with Kevin Costner as a B-17 bomber pilot who has to figure out how to land his aircraft with no landing gear and a troop trapped in the belly gun. No gremlin, but still far fetched in the extreme.
“Nowhere to run”
When I heard that Chloë Grace Moretz was starring in this take on the genre, it sounded like must-see entertainment. And for the most part it is.
Outmanned, outgunned and on a mission to deliver top secret documents that could turn the tide of World War Two, she plays a young female officer who must convince a rag-tag regiment to stand by her side and get her to her final destination.
With nowhere to run, time slipping away and a stowaway on board, the mission looks all but lost as the cruelty of war becomes reality.
The first half is a smart mix of derring-do, sexual politics and a mystery. What secrets does this female traveller have? What is she hiding? What is outside the plane?
When we finally discover the answers, the reveal adds a fresh spin to the story, but it’s as nuts as the finale of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories pilot. Yes, it’s thrilling, but when Chloë’s character performs gravity-defying feats in the finale, it stretches credibility to breaking point.
Yes, there’s a thrilling denouement, and the heroine is one we’re with every step of the way, but when it comes to shaggy dog stories, this is up there with Digby the Biggest Dog in the World for its credibility.
Good fun, with a kick-ass turn from Chloë, but as long as you don’t mind that bonkers third act, this should pass the time a treat.