I just got back from watching Ant-Man. I don’t want to get huge into the movie, but I will say a few things at the end of this post. I’m mostly here to talk about a couple of movies I watched before it. I was reading another blog, Longbox Graveyard, who also read Tales to Astonish 27 and 35. They referenced some potential cinematic influences on those issues, so I decided to check them out. I had seen other shrinking and size movies, such as Land of Giants and The Fantastic Voyage, but never these.
First off is Gordon Douglas’ 1954 Sci Fi/Horror classic Them!. Them is a movie about giant ants that terrorize a the New Mexican desert before heading off to terrorize Los Angeles. It fell along the same lines as Godzilla – these creatures came to be this size because of the radiation of nuclear bomb testing. I dug it a lot. I have heard of this film but never checked it out because it just looks like a campy 50’s horror. Quite the opposite. It wasn’t campy by any means, nor was it a spoof of bad horror. It took itself seriously enough for me reciprocate.
The story was tight, the acting was grounded, the effects were good for their time, and the whole time I was engaged in the film. At just over an hour and a half, it didn’t wast any time in telling the story. The threat was established, the threat was legitimized, the stakes were set, plans were made, those plans were executed. It didn’t add any time doing anything it didn’t have to. In the end the ant’s were stopped and the heroes saved the day, and almost everybody went home happy.
Some black and white films are difficult to sit through, especially when they are on the more unrealistic side, but this one was not one of them. It maintained its dignity throughout, and managed to grab a spot as one of the best Sci Fi/Horror films of it’s day.
The other film I took in was Jack Arnold’s 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man. Adapted by Richard Matheson from his own book The Shrinking Man from a year prior, it tells the story of Scott Carey (Grant Williams) as he slowly gets smaller and smaller after being exposed to an odd cloud of smoke. The first half of this film deals with Scott and his wife dealing with the emotional struggle of discovering and trying to reverse and accepting his condition. This is where I felt the picture was strongest. I didn’t care so much about him as a smaller man trying to ward off a cat or a spider as he later does, I cared more about what was happening to the relationship he had with others, specifically his wife. It was also interesting to watch them adapt to his size ailments and attempt to normalize him by having smaller clothing, smaller furniture despite him still having to look up 50 feet to have convorsation. When he ends up in a tussle with said cat, and then caught alone in the basement and trying to overcome an array of obstacles there, I found myself loosing interest in the story and waiting for him to get back upstairs so they can miraculously cure him.
But, to my surprise, that never happens. Instead, as I feel is far more realistic (or as realistic as we can get within the confines of this story), Scott Carey never gets larger. He never gets discovered, he never gets saved. No, instead, he just continues to shrink. But as he gets smaller comes the true climax of the film and the best scene of the entire thing – his acceptance, and realization of what is to come. He understands that the infinitesimal and the infinite are polar opposites, but lead into each other, and that laws of nature transcend the ideas of man. But most importantly he gives up on his own ideas and acknowledges that there are other things, beyond his understanding, and surrenders it all up to nature and to God. I enjoyed this film a good deal, but I did not enjoy it as much as Them!
And last but not least, the movie I was most excited for, Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. I’m gonna be honest, I left feeling like I had not gotten what I had hyped up in my mind. I will say this though – it started slow but had one of the best final acts of any Marvel movie. The fight was great. It had stakes, it had a realistic match up, it had comedy and, most importantly, it had duration. No 5 second battle after a bunch of monologues about the importance of what they were doing. I also felt that Paul Rudd and Michael Peña were the best and more interesting performances of the film. And while I could see a lot of cracks in the film some great concepts were explored, and I did have a good time watching it. And now that its been over for a couple hours I do find myself thinking quite a bit about it. Maybe not the fastest paced movie yet, but it did have a lot of heart.
I will be seeing it again right away, and I will definitely have a better grasp of my opinion on it. I always need to see them twice, otherwise I feel like i’m not being fair.
Also, it was definitely its own film, but definitely fits in well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When you see it, you’ll see why.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out Ant-Man!
Images from: http://i2.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/-c2K8f8LJo1Y/VSxT3Q33k-I/AAAAAAAAAMY/z-fhJ2T2hag/s1600/Ant-Man%2BMovie.jpg, http://pulpsushi.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452c37169e2019b005d48a6970b-pi, http://www.cinemablend.com/images/news_img/66471/ant_man_66471.jpg, and http://i.ytimg.com/vi/8eLZ9lxbuJE/maxresdefault.jpg