Updated: Feb 11
Directed by Roseanne Liang. Written by Max Landis & Roseanne Liang.
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Byron Coll, Taylor John Smith, Callan Mulvey, Benedict Wall & Bradley Finch.
Read on to find out what happens when male chauvinism isn’t the worst thing you’ll encounter on a plane, the cost of child endangerment, and the most ridiculous moment since Fonzie jumped the shark.
I must admit that I went into this movie with lowered expectations. The trailer looked ok, but there was an exceedingly ridiculous moment, (more on that later) and it also appeared as if the trailer showed, what amounts to, an abridged version of the entire film. Including the ending.
On the plus side, it doesn’t open with narration or a text crawl. Although there is an animated intro sequence/infomercial, that should have been omitted as it adds nothing to the story.
Set during the second world war; the movie opens with, a lady named Maude (Chloe Grace Moretz) boarding a military plane that's delivering supplies from New Zealand, to Samoa.
She bumbles about on an active runway for a bit and then climbs aboard the plane as it's preparing to take-off.
You do have to wonder though, at who would let someone stroll around on a runway. Even on a normal day that would be a strange thing to do. During wartime, it’s downright stupid. Sure, New Zealand was quite a distance from any combat zones, but even so, surely there was some security? Especially when Maude's able to board any-old plane as well. Don’t they lock doors on these things?
She has with her a confidential package that must not be opened, a letter, and a plucky attitude. But all that doesn’t mean anything when the crew are a bunch of chauvinistic, racist and distrustful men.
After having explained to the chaps that she can’t relinquish her package at all, she hands it over and is sent out of the way, into the belly turret.
It’s from there that things start to pick up.
The camera stays in the turret with Maude, leaving the rest of the crew as voices on the radio. It puts the audience very nicely into her shoes, as she sits in the confined space with only the clouds and the rattle of the plane for company.
OK, that’s not all she has keeping her company: There’s the aforementioned radio chatter, as the men discuss Maude and her mysterious package - and wowzers, I’d give her some of my package, am I right fellas? Whilst she has to endure that sort of banter, she soon finds out that there are worst things on board than chauvinism as she spots a strange creature scuttling around on the exterior of the plane.
Throw in some extra threat as Maude spots a Japanese scout plane, and the tension starts to ramp up.
Moretz does a great job as Maude takes control of the situation in her attempts to fend off the creature, whilst at times, quite literally, hanging on for dear life. That first hour-or-so, when the camera stays with Moretz as she’s hunched over in the ball-turret, are probably the best parts of the film.
Visually, everything looks good on screen, with the plane and the uniforms etc. looking authentic. Admittedly, I don't know what these things should look like, but they looked good either way. The rolling clouds and landscapes look impressive, as does the excellent CGI on the creature. That thing stands out, and not in an out-of-place fashion either, but for being damn realistic as it clambers around tearing shit up.
Sound design was good, with the rumble of propellers, and the rattle of metal as the plane heads to its destination.
Most notable for me was the soundtrack (composed by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper) which was most predominately synthwave, rather than a generic action/horror score, or music more evocative of the era. It could have felt out of place, but I liked it, and it fit the on-screen action nicely. Well, apart from one moment perhaps, when a character falls to their death and the music didn’t shift to match the scene, making it more of an ‘oh look, there he goes’ moment, rather than an ‘oh, shit’ moment.
That was probably also compounded by the fact that besides Maude, the other characters are instantly forgettable.
They were, mostly, relegated to voices on the radio, and felt as if they had no real worth on the story.
There were the Scottish man, the love interest and the one guy who wasn't white, with everyone else being interchangeable. Oh, wait, the captain had a moustache, so he was recognisable, I guess.
The problem was, they just weren’t memorable. All I can remember now was that the Scotsman was called Taggart. That's about it.
Consequentially, once we get into the final act of the movie, character deaths were meaningless. Also, as most of the guys came across as douchebags, I didn’t care about them anyway, as the movie hadn’t built a connection with any of them.
Overall, the movie is fun but flawed. Entertaining enough, but with some silliness creeping in, especially with that moment that I alluded to earlier.
Now, I don’t consider this a spoiler, as it doesn’t give away any story, and was in the trailer, but just-in-case, feel free to jump to the next section.
In one scene, Maude falls from the plane, when a burning enemy craft passing below explodes and sends her back into the plane, via the hole that she dropped out from.
It was ridiculous in the extreme. It was so bad that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the ghosts of Albert Einstein & Stephen Hawking didn’t give the writers a slap for the complete ignorance of the laws of physics. It was as if they had been filming a Fast and Furious movie in a nearby studio, and one of the script pages got mixed up.
That being said, it did work better in the film than it did in the trailer, but whether that was because I was prepared for it, or because I was caught up in the moment, is debatable.
Did anyone jump ahead? If so, it’s safe to continue now.
I know that I have moaned a little bit, but I did enjoy the movie, it’s just that it felt as though it couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if it had toned down some of the crude banter, it would have opened the film to a larger audience. The removal of lines about how Maude 'has a fuckable mouth' would have been a prime place to start. Without nonsense like that, the film could have been more accessible to slightly younger viewers.
It felt as if it wanted to be a movie with a strong female lead but at the expense of making almost every male character an insufferable dick.
It’s like how it mentioned Maude’s involvement with the WASPS, but then relegated them to some old footage during the credits. That footage felt out of place, as it had no real bearing on the movie. For anyone who has never heard of the WASPS or the WAF, that footage will be mostly meaningless, because of how it wasn't elaborated on in the film.
Still, despite its flaws, I did enjoy my time watching the movie. It’s worth taking a look at if you don’t mind watching something that starts tense and is entertaining, but sacrifices character building and physics.
It’s something that I would watch again, however, because I did enjoy it.
I can forgive it some of its issues, in the interest of watching a reasonably entertaining creature feature.
It just didn’t quite get the balance right and consequentially, won’t be a film for everyone.