What would you do if you were given the option to shrink your body and start a whole new life? That’s the dilemma that faces Matt Damon (The Martian) and Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters) in Downsizing, the latest release from director Alexander Payne (The Descendants).
Downsizing imagines an overpopulated world where people are encouraged to shrink with the promise of living a much better life in a miniaturized town. However, once they shrink there is no way of reversing the procedure, and adjusting to this new life is not going to be an easy task.
Shrinking characters are a common plot adopted within movies, but nothing quite like this concept has been seen before. We cannot wait to see how it plays out, and in anticipation of the movie's release we’re taking a look at some of our favourite shrinking movies to date. Though they may be lacking in size, they certainly aren’t lacking in entertainment.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Adapted from the novel The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, The Incredible Shrinking Man follows businessman Scott Carey who begins to shrink following exposure to radiation. Despite their best efforts, medics are unable to help him and so Carey eventually accepts his fate and looks to the future.
Released by Universal Pictures, the movie was unusual for them in that it did not have a properly resolved ending. Despite this, The Incredible Shrinking Man proved to be a great success, gaining positive reviews and earning more than $1 million. Though a planned sequel never surfaced, a comedy remake was released in 1981 entitled The Incredible Shrinking Woman, in which Lily Tomlin begins to shrink following exposure to an experimental perfume.
Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Fantastic Voyage follows a submarine crew who shrink to microscopic size and venture into an injured scientist’s body in order to repair damage to his brain. A novel based on the plot was released six months prior to the film, leading many to mistakenly assume that the film had been based on the novel.
However, the film proved to be a strong success and won two Academy Awards in 1966, for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects. A remake of the movie has been discussed since at least 1984 but has yet to be developed. Most recently Guillermo del Toro was attached to direct, though he postponed to focus his attention on the Golden Globe-nominated The Shape of Water. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that his adaptation comes to life, with pre-production rumoured to begin in spring 2018.
Inspired by Fantastic Voyage, Innerspace was intended to be a comedy version of the 1966 classic. With a cast including Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose), Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally) and Martin Short (Treasure Planet), the plot centres on a science experiment gone wrong, when a miniaturized sub and pilot are accidentally injected into a grocery store clerk instead of the intended test rabbit.
Like its predecessor, Innerspace was positively received by both critics and audiences and went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1988, becoming the only film directed by Joe Dante to ever win an Oscar.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
When you think of shrinking movies Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is very likely to leap to mind. The directorial debut of Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), the movie tells the tale of an inventor who accidentally shrinks his children and his neighbour's children, and their attempts to make it back home.
The film was an overwhelming success, earning more than $222 million worldwide to hold a five-year record for the highest grossing Disney live-action movie. Unsurprisingly, due to its success Honey, I Shrunk the Kids went on to receive two sequels and a television series. Despite being released almost 30 years ago it continues to be viewed as an essential family film, and frequently appears in lists of The Greatest Family Movies of All Time.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Based on the well-known story by Lewis Carroll, Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation was the film that started the trend of Disney live-action films we see today. Grossing more than $1 billion worldwide, it remains one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Anyone familiar with Alice in Wonderland knows how significant the idea of shrinking is throughout the film, and this is no different in the live-action version, when Alice (Mia Wasikowska) both shrinks to miniscule proportions and grows exponentially to fill the room.
Marvel’s smallest superhero, Ant-Man’s origin story was revealed in the 2015 movie of the same name. The 12th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he becomes the titular hero, developing the ability to shrink in size but significantly increase in strength. (Or as seen in Captain America: Civil War, the ability to also become a giant. Ant-size does seem cooler though.)
Since his first comic appearance in 1962, Ant-Man has appeared under many different names, with Scott Lang being the most memorable. The 2015 release was easily one of the funniest Marvel films to date, and we cannot wait for him to return, first in Infinity War but also Ant-Man and the Wasp, due for release in June 2018.
Hannah Dixon is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.