Fool’s Errand

Chloe Grace Moretz spends some 50-minutes of Shadow in the Cloud locked inside a war plane’s underturret. The all-male crew stuffed her in there, and over the headset, she’s listening to their derogatory, misogynistic bile. It’s all there – placing the woman literally underneath them, refusing to hear her as she reports on various happenings, and their own wartime egos denying anything is wrong with this plane.

Shadow in the Cloud is too many things; that’s it’s fault. A pulpy, feminist, Twlight Zone-referencing, creature feature, WWII thriller bulks up on genres. Intended drama at the midpoint then falls apart because Shadow in the Cloud wants to enjoy absurdity, but also play to serious motherly instincts.

Shadow in the Cloud is aggressive, even vengeful

However, there’s no mistaking intent, casting Moretz as a young woman, fighting for recognition as the men around her deny her skills. Although taking place on an isolated plane, Moretz enduring their chatter from above creates a “world on her shoulders” motif, continuing to fight, even as their comments linger in the headset.

There is a monster on board. He’s the Twilight Zone throwback, picking at the plane’s screws and bolts, shutting down engines, and occasionally killing people. This isn’t so much a monster as a metaphor for the men aboard. Just after take off, they ignore Moretz’s statement about broken hydraulics. Then, they blame her when the turret hatch breaks; she doesn’t know how to operate a door. Blame the woman rather than admit fault, and that gremlin critter on board is a visual manifestation of that ignorance.

When the men die, they do so because of their own actions – or in some cases inaction. Those denying Japanese forces in the area take bullets to the chest; those who played down the rat creature’s existence end up victims of its claws. Shadow in the Cloud is aggressive, even vengeful, taking a stand for wartime’s women pilots as much as those Air Force members still dealing with these attitudes. One of the final images is the plane’s sexist side art going up in flames, this after Moretz’s violent, justified outburst against the gremlin tormenting her – punching it “on the nose” as if to acknowledge how preachy Shadow in the Cloud intends to be.

In that context, seeing Moretz blasted back into a plane after a mid-air explosion forces her upward isn’t that ridiculous. Pulpy fantasy leans on such material. Trying to bring some reality into the mixture when Moretz’s purpose is made clear hampers that tone however.

Video

Red and green lights decorate the otherwise familiar palette. Their intensity adds dimension to numerous scenes, while the grading otherwise favors a vintage sepia tinge, mixed with the colder blues. At times, natural flesh tones escape, showing Shadow in the Cloud provides enough color range.

In the bowels where Moretz spends the early part of the story, black levels look sensational. Lightning flashes spark the contrast. Other lights dim, keeping the effect of a claustrophobic interior. This Blu-ray maintains the horror tone unchallenged, even if blacks don’t always keep the deepest density.

High-end digitally-lensed clarity invites only light noise. Compression doesn’t hamper things, even if occasional banding does bug the CG effects. Notable, but unobtrusive. Detail aplenty gives Shadow in the Cloud visual gloss. Texture looks superb, whether facial definition or the rusted metals inside the plane.

Audio

Showing there’s life in 5.1, the DTS-HD mix is wonderful. The little stuff matters, like voices inside the cabin jumping between speakers, thunder strikes in specific channels, and creaky metals wandering. When the critter begins its mayhem, its steps clank against the interior. Japanese Zeroes fire shots and fly everywhere, stereos and rears fully engaged. Directionality is a constant, a track cognizant of what sound design can do to enhance a movie, making it feel larger than it really is.

There’s effective low-end too, engines roaring and a synth score throbbing in the lows. It’s full and impactful, adding power to gunshots or other blasts. A little heavier pop from turrets wouldn’t hurt though. Like the positional effects, Shadow in the Cloud doesn’t forget to use the available subwoofer.

Extras

Nothing.

Shadow in the Cloud
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  • Extras
4

Movie

When celebrating the absurd, Shadow in the Cloud’s forceful sexism allegory is genuinely smart, but the real world drama falls apart.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 23 Shadow in the Cloud screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 120,000+ already in our library), 120 exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, subscribe on Patreon.