East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

New Year’s Movie: Shadow in the Cloud (2020)


Back when I was a kid, we used to go to the movies on New Year’s Day, or in the following Sunday – a film with all the family in the afternoon, and then a stop in a cafeteria or a tea room somewhere for some hot chocolate and a few cookies, and then home to heat up the leftovers from yesterday’s New Year’s Eve dinner or today’s New Year’s Day lunch.

Those days are gone forever, to quote the poet, but I still like to watch a new movie at the start of the new year, and as luck would have it, the masters of the streaming platforms have decided to start distributing on the first day of 2021 Roseanne Liang’s very pulp-ish action thriller Shadow in the Cloud.
And so I watched it, and it was a perfect way to start off the year.

The plot in a nutshell, without giving away too much – in August 1943, a WAC officer (Chloë Grace Moretz) boards the B-17 known as The Fool’s Errand, carrying a top secret package. Her last-minute appearance takes the crew guys off-guard, and she’s to sit through a fair share of “women don’t fly” macho bullshit. Then the Japanese fighters appear. And the gremlins.

Shadow in the Cloud was made on a shoestring budget, and every last cent they spent for it is on screen – the effects are good, the acting is spot on, and Chloë Grace Moretz carries the movie almost by herself – the first half of the film is basically just her locked up in the Sperry turret underneath the plane. The action is extremely tense and decidedly over the top (and you get a taste of that in the trailer), and nicely choreographed.

And of course there’s people out there crying their eyes out because “they ignored the laws of physics!”
In a fantasy movie with killer gremlins.
Yes, they did.
And other crybabies are throwing a tantrum because “feminist propaganda”.
But really, if all the movies featuring a kick-ass female lead and a bunch of guys acting like dicks are feminist propaganda and an attack on men everywhere, then we are in serious trouble.

The film is a lot of fun, it gives us a competent, kick-ass female lead played in an excellent way by a young and talented actress, and keeps us well entertained for 83 minutes before leaving us with a nice pleasant feeling.
Granted, it references a lot of previous movies – including a certain Twilight Zone episode featuring William Shatner, and the old 1990s Memphis Belle. That’s fine with me.
Just as it’s more than fine the film is channelling the spirit of those old aviation pulps. This is quite refreshing, in fact.
And it was a pity not being able to catch this in a cinema, but hey, we know how things are these days, right?

So, all in all, a highly recommended little movie, especially if you like old action-adventure stories and you want to see gremlins in action. This was a perfect start for the new year, for me and my brother.

Oh, and I will add a final note – apparently there’s people out there complaining about the movie because, you see, “there were no women pilots in World War II”.
I guess this goes under the “guys acting like dicks” clause mentioned above, so let me be brief.
First, it’s a fantasy movie, dude.
Second, learn some history.
Third, don’t be a dick.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “New Year’s Movie: Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

  1. The excellent counter to a lot of uptight objections to fantasy movies. First, it’s a fantasy movie, second, learn some history, and third, don’t be a dick.
    Mind you, even though they are sheerest fantasy, it doe set my teeth on edge when the supposedly elite combat troopers in movies like STAR WARS, STARSHIP TROOPERS and the sequel to ALIEN are so ludicrously inept they wouldn’t last five minutes against even a half-way competent green beret. I’ll admit I loved it when the biggest dick among the male troopers says to the tough girl in the troop, “Hey, Valdez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?” and she responds, “No, have you?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • In general, fiction usually portrays extraordinary circumstances – because you need to be a hell of a good writer to write a gripping story about a bunch of GIs on a routine patrol in which nothing happens.
      So yes, I am willing to suspend my disbelief.
      It would be different were this a documentary, or a based-on-facts biopic.
      But a movie about bat-winged monsters on a B-17?
      Bring it on.


  2. Pingback: Luce su Shadow in the Cloud – CineFatti

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