In January 2019, the production companyShadow in the cloudIt was announced that “Kick Ass” star Chloe Grace Moretz will play the lead role in the WWII horror film. Three months later and just a few weeks before the first plank fell, 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. In addition, Liang completely revised and rewrote the text several times.
The son of 1980s legend John Landis (“Blues Brothers”) was actually noticed in 2013 in an interview with apparently misogynistic remarks. In 2017, a writer of films like “Chronicle”, “American Ultra” or “Bright” was also accused of 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 United States, he spoke: He saw the film and the final product correspond to 90 to 95% of its original script. An answer from Liang is currently pending. However, I previously mentioned that Landis’ submission was unusually 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 of a military airfield in Auckland, New Zealand: Maud Garrett (Chloe Grace Moritz), dressed in the Women’s Auxiliary Forces of the Royal Air Force, boarded a USAF plane just before takeoff. She provided the crew, made up of soldiers from various Allied forces, an official document stating that she was on a top-secret mission to the British War Office. It will be vitally important that she and her mysterious suitcase be taken on a trip over 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 overtly hostile towards 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 it is – so I think – it 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 messing with an engine …
We know that from somewhere …
In this scenario, memories of the episode “Twilight Zone” “Portrait of a Fearful Man” (or one of the many new releases, for example in the film branch “Unheimliche Schattenlichter”, produced by John Landis wake up). In the legendary episode, a passenger who plays Captain William Shatner in “Enterprise,” who just got out of a mental hospital, discovers a monster on a commercial airliner wing 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 that later director “Superman” Richard Donner staged at the time, what Maude in “Shadow In The Cloud” is is: Nobody wants to believe “hysterical little lady” too. Another parallel to the nearly 60-year-old TV model is the explanation, if any, of where this monster comes from, quickly identified as the so-called “Gremlin”, and what its motivations are. But that shouldn’t really bother the audience. Gremlin definitely exists and we have a lot of fun with his cunning.
Even before the movie takes to the air, Rosan Liang starts her career with a funny, animated short film with a very original sound and appearance, which seems to be aimed at fostering more conscience among the Allied Earth crew. So-called “gremlins” are presented here as illusions, which are only used as a cheap excuse for lazy Air Force mechanics. Well, you’ll soon know Maud and her mates better …
After this original introduction, things are still quite traditional. The historical setting is defined, and the characters are introduced – so comprehensively and convincingly that the viewer has nearly 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.
Don’t get 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 happened.
But then it all happens very quickly at some point – and the movie suddenly turns from the claustrophobic room toward the horror of a restless creature. Gremlin shows himself and with his ugly and oversized looks, his speed, skill, and aggressiveness is instantly terrifying.
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 as she attacks three enemy machines. You climb hanging over the fuselage to fight Gremlin …
Who now thinks that this is completely Over the top Sounds, he must first wait for the exaggerated ending of the sequence: Yes, moments like this are of course hideous nonsense far from reality. But the whole thing is always so imaginative, surprisingly and pleasantly told and presented visually that during cheerleading, one is tempted multiple times by automatically clapping enthusiastically. It looks like the movie was made for a video evening with as many friends as possible screaming or even better in a crowded auditorium at a fantasy film festival.
Conclusion: A very interesting but very exaggerated mix of liberation story and hit horror and war. Chloë Grace Moretz is also clearly in a good mood with her lead role, which is at least incredibly demanding physically.
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