I have to admit that I have a certain weakness – what English speakers call a “soft spot” – for the work of the controversial Max Landis. It’s a real pleasure effortlessly devour the scripts which were translated into feature films like ‘Chronicle’, ‘Mr. Right ‘or’ American Ultra ‘or even’ Victor Frankenstein ‘or’ Bright ‘; two titles with which I managed to connect without problems —the last one blew me away— despite almost completely distorting their base material.
His also very interesting unproduced work includes librettos like ‘Deeper’, ‘Higer’ or ‘Trust the Police’ —Which can be accessed without much effort after a Google search, and which I highly recommend reading—; a group of stories set in a single location which Landis calls “The Measures”, and whose writing process he has analyzed in a video on his YouTube channel that has no waste whatsoever.
Within this collection of bottled stories the house brand is ‘Shadow in the Cloud’; an electrifying journey of just under an hour and a half aboard a World War II B-17 bomber in which war cinema, the girl power more disheveled and a premise in the key of terror that unceremoniously shoots one of the most famous chapters of ‘The Twilight Zone’ are embraced under the direction of Roseanne Liang in a cocktail as explosive as it is absurdly funny.
How good the surprises feel …
In a world full of superheroic epic fans that far exceed the two-hour barrier and in which, as a general rule, freshness is conspicuous by its absence, a film like ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ seems like little less than a gift from heaven. And it is that Liang and his team only need 80 brief minutes to fully introduce you to their peculiar universe pulp and leave you ecstatic and with a wide smile on your lips once the show ends.
Within the apparently simple mechanisms that move his narrative, an unusual precision hides both as the beats dramatic and drastic changes – perhaps too much – of course with a relentless and almost exhausting pace – in the good sense of the word –, as in suppressing the viewer’s disbelief while set pieces impossible that defy not only all logic, but the laws of physics, to translate it into applause and conspiratorial laughter.
Among all the orgy of explosions, death and destruction at the blow of the synthesizer – the soundtrack of Matt Jantzen tremendous -, the New Zealand director manages to incorporate an unexpected warmth to the mixture that reinforces the frontal – and not at all intrusive – feminist readings of the film, channeled by a spotless Chloë Grace Moretz both in her role as a relentless action heroine and in exposing the most human and vulnerable side of her character.
If there is something that invites me to recommend ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ with special fervor, that is its ability to surprise; something that is increasingly difficult to obtain from blockbusters precooked in large studios, and that in this little and insane story of aeronautical survival is the order of the day. If you decide to indulge in its many worldly pleasures, don’t forget to buckle up, because the journey is extremely bumpy … and you may end up wanting to repeat despite the dizziness caused by so much sudden turbulence.