In January 2019, the production companyShadow in the cloudIt has been announced that “Kick Ass” star Chloe Grace Moretz will star in the WWII horror film. Three months later, and only a few weeks before the first flap, another statement was made to the press: Moritz and Chinese New Zealand director Rosan Liang publicly distanced themselves from screenwriter Max Landis, who has since been banned from production. Additionally, Liang has completely revised and rewrote the text many times.
The son of 1980s legend John Landis (“Blues Brothers”) was actually noted in an interview in 2013 with seemingly anti-women remarks. In 2017, the author of films like “Chronicle”, “American Ultra” or “Bright” was also charged with sexual assault by an employee for the first time. In the spring of 2019, eight other women, including his ex-girlfriend, accused him of rape or emotional and physical abuse.
Since then, Landis, who was a writer for DC Comics, has been unemployed and mainly deals with his social media channels. Even after the VOD for “Shadow In The Cloud” was released in the US, he spoke: He saw the film and the final product correspond to 90 to 95% of its original script. Currently, Liang’s answer remains pending. However, I previously mentioned that Landis’ submission was extraordinarily short (less than 70 pages instead of the usual 90 to 120 pages) and left much to be desired in terms of content and format.
So we definitely can’t clear it up at this point. But we can at least say: The bad little monster movie was, as it ended up, extremely fun for us …
1943 On the tarmac at a military airport in Auckland, New Zealand: Maude Garrett (Chloe Grace Moritz), dressed in a female RAF Auxiliary uniform, boarded a USAF plane just before takeoff. The crew, made up of soldiers from various Allied forces, was presented with an official document stating that she was on a top-secret mission for the British War Office. It would be vitally important to be taken with her mysterious suitcase on a trip across the South Pacific to the United States.
According to ancient superstition, women on a fighter plane bring bad luck – so the crew’s reaction is downright hostile to the flight officer. Captain Reeves (Calan Mulvey), overwhelmed by the situation, finally locked the young woman in the tower under the Boeing B-17 fuselage. There he believed he probably wouldn’t be able to cause any harm. As soon as it took off, however, the plane was attacked by Japanese fighter bombers. Additionally, Maud spotted a winged creature with sharp teeth and a long tail under one of its wings, which appeared to be tampering with one of the engines …
We know that from somewhere …
In this scenario, memories of “Twilight Zone” “Portrait of a Fearful Man” (or one of the many new releases, for example in the theatrical branch “Unheimliche Schattenlichter” produced by John Landis, inevitably wake up). In the legendary episode, a passenger who plays Captain William Shatner in “Enterprise,” who has just been discharged from a mental hospital, discovers a monster on the wing of a commercial airliner tampering with an engine. Of course, no one believes him when he tells the flight attendants and his buddies about it.
Similar to the black-and-white episode later staged by “Superman” director Richard Donner, Maud appeared in “Shadow In The Cloud”: Nobody wants to believe “hysterical little lady” either. Another similarity to the nearly 60-year-old TV model is the hinted explanation of where this monster comes from, which has quickly been identified as the so-called “Gremlin”, and what its motivations are. But that shouldn’t really bother the audience. Gremlin is definitely there and we have a lot of fun with his cunning.
Even before the film takes to the air, Rosan Liang starts her career with a funny, animated educational short film, with a very original sound and appearance, which appears to be intended to encourage more conscience among the Allied ground crew. So-called “gremlins” are shown here as illusions that are used only as a cheap excuse for a lazy Air Force mechanic. Well, you’ll soon know Maud and her mates better …
After this original introduction, it continues quite classic. The historical setting is defined, the characters are introduced – so comprehensively and convincingly that the viewer has almost forgotten Gremlin from the “previous film” and in the direct drama halfway of WWII about the underestimated role of women in the military during World War II.
Nothing comes close
Not only do we get to know and love Garrett, whom Moritz portrays as exquisitely assertive, capable and independent, but also her flight partners – a group of chauvinists who also overtly act racist towards co-pilot Maori Williams (Biola Quale). But it wouldn’t take long before we’re alone with Garrett in their prison – the narrow, wobbling Plexiglas hemisphere with an anti-aircraft gun mounted on the belly of the machine. Just like them, we can’t see what’s happening upstairs inside the B-17. Only on the radio do we hear voices and conversations that give an incomplete impression of what was happening.
But then at some point everything happens very quickly – and the movie abruptly turns from the claustrophobic room toward the horror of a restless creature. Gremlin shows himself instantly frightened with his ugly and oversized bat appearance, speed, dexterity, and aggression.
In terms of business, things are in quick succession. The heart of the scene is an exciting series of events, staged by composer Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper (“Housebound”) with intermittent electrical sounds: Thousands of meters high, Garrett frees himself from her cell while attacking three enemy machines. You climb hanging over the fuselage to fight Gremlin …
Anyone thinks that this is quite so Over the top Sounds, he must wait for the exaggerated end of the sequence: Yes, moments like this are of course outrageous nonsense far from reality. But the whole thing is always so fanciful, surprisingly and pleasantly told and visually presented that while cheering with you, you tend to automatically clap with enthusiasm. The film looks like it was made for a video evening with as many friends as possible screaming or even better, in a crowded auditorium at the Fantasy Film Festival.
Conclusion: A very interesting but very exaggerated mix of liberation story and hit horror and war. Chloe Grace Moretz is also clearly in a good mood with her lead role, which is at least as physically demanding as it gets.
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