Sometimes all you need is the tiniest of set-ups to have a great B-movie with effects that transport you to another world.
“The Incredible Shrinking Man” does not dwell on details of why or how this man, Scott Carey (Grant Williams), began to shrink from a man who hardly fit his clothes, to the size of a child, to hardly fitting in a doll house, and then to the point where a common spider is utterly massive to him. We get the basic understanding of how it happened, but it is so rushed that you almost miss it. Not that it matters, the film only uses it as an excuse to show the true highlight of the film – making us feel like we’re right along-side Scott in this tiny world.
Truly great special effects do not make the impossible possible, but make us care and rejoice in the impossible. Films like “Godzilla” (1954) and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” not only have impressive effects, but effects that make you terrified for the characters. The same can be said about “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” as we watch Scott’s world deteriorate from phones being too big for him, to using a pencil as a lifeboat, to a bobby pin acting as a sword. The effects never go over the top and compliment how even the tiniest of menaces in our world can become life-shattering problems when you’re smaller than an ant.
My only complaint with the film was the closing monologue about how being so tiny made Scott feel one with the universe and how pretentious it was. That type of speech didn’t fit with the rest of the film, so it came out of no where and didn’t do the film any favors. If anything, I found that speech laughable because of all the 1950s cheese attached to it.
Overall, “The Incredible Shrinking Man” is an impressive piece of 1950s science fiction that deserves more recognition. It might not have changed much, but its use of size manipulation and sets helped to elevate this above most other B-films. With a great performance by Grant Williams, this one is certainly worth a watch.
Final Grade: B-