Female Aviator Saves the Day in ‘Shadow in the Cloud’

Shadow in the Cloud is a 2020 oddball New Zealand movie now streaming on Hulu. It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be—a wartime action film or a creature feature.

It is charming and great fun for all that. There are quite a few edge-of-the-seat moments. What I particularly liked was how the female protagonist saves the day. This is what I and other women who yearn to be heroes (or superheroes) fantasize about. This is pure female empowerment.

The movie takes place in 1943. Flight Officer Maude Garrett boards an allied B-17 bomber that is about to fly from Auckland to Samoa. She claims she is authorized by a high-ranking officer to ferry top-secret documents to the destination. The male crew members make her ride in the sperry—a gun turret mounted at the bottom of the bomber—on takeoff because they don’t have a seat for her. While in the turret, she discovers there is a nonhuman passenger on board who is intent on destroying the plane.

By the way, “gremlins”—creatures that prey on airplane mechanicals in midflight—were a popular urban legend among British airmen. This isn’t a spoiler. The trailer tells you as much.

And if the monster isn’t enough, the bomber also is attacked by Japanese fighters. Fortunately, Garrett has skills.

Although the film has a B-movie feel, the production quality is high and the acting good. The monster isn’t cheesy. The action sequences are well executed, though a few of them stretch credulity beyond the breaking point.

Chloë Grace Moretz is riveting as Garrett—which is great because she carries almost the entire movie. The men are mere props who are heard more than seen in the first half of the film. Their sole function is to make Moretz look good.

The movie’s only jarring point is the liberal use of synthesizer music more suited to an ’80s-era TV police drama. The music doesn’t fit the time period and it adds a strange vibe.

All in all I found it a good effort considering the film's pre-production problems. The screenplay was written by Max Landis, who was removed as one of the project’s producers following sexual misconduct allegations. Director Roseanne Liang, who hails from New Zealand, rewrote the screenplay. This is Liang’s first action movie.

I recommend it if you’re in the mood for something entertaining, and you want to see a woman kick butt.


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