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  • Cube
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on September 10, 1999
I've read most of the reviews here and, with all due respect, I think many of them miss the point. For the time being, forget about the technicalities: about whether a monstrous, complicated structure could ever be built, about the physics of the operation, about the characters, et. al....suspend your disbelief.
Speaking of characters: there is no character development. But this is done deliberately. These aren't single people being represented here. The characters aren't meant to be believable. Or even real. No one in their right mind, if they woke up to find themselves stuck in a cube armed with lethal traps, would behave as irrationally as they do. So assume this allegory:
Let the cube represent a system, created by man. Call it "civilization" or "society" or whatever you want, but I'll refer to it as the "system". Like them, we are all trapped in this system today, this post-modern rat race full of glass and steel and concrete and plastic. I'm willing to wager everyone's ultimate dream is to escape it, too. The 6 people in the movie represent, as best as can be explained, the 6 social groups in the system:
1) The strong, military, authority type, used to getting his own way and controlling others in the system for his own benefit, adhering to the practise of "might makes right".
2) The intelligent, analytical scholar type; understands the logic of the system but not much else; kinda has a silent "don't rock the boat" mentality to her, which is why she is easily swayed to do the bidding of others.
3) The paranoid, suspicious clinician type, who constantly worries about the condition of others, and has a burning desire to warn everyone of what she perceives as harmful elements in the system.
4) The apathetic, intellectual type, who probably knows more about the system and how it works than anyone else but is reluctant to tell anyone because he doesn't see what good it will bring.
5) The naive, "ignorant bliss" type, in the form of an autistic savant, uncaringly obeying the system's rules and having no hangups at all about it or how it functions or why its even there.
6) The rebellious, criminal loner type, out to defy, subvert, and beat the system on its own terms, without help from anyone else.
It is interesting to note that the criminal was the only one killed by the system itself (the fellow at the beginning doesn't count. That was just a prologue to explain to the audience how the cube works). This is appropriate, since he was the only one trying to defeat the system, rather than work with it. All the other characters end up killing each other, save for the autistic, who didn't care either way whether he escaped the cube or not, who was granted freedom (or whatever the hell that was at the end).
A great allegory of life, I found. Its almost as if the movie was saying that its not the system's fault. Yes, the system was built by man, but by man collectively, not by any single man (remember the line: "There is noone at the top. Big Brother is not watching you."). The system, this movie is trying to say, is not evil. The system can't be evil. It's not really anything. It just IS.
Men often do evil things through the system--but that doesn't make the system evil. People often blame the system when they should really be blaming themselves. Because in a system such as this one, the most lethal traps aren't the ones hiding in the cube, but rather the people you're stuck in the cube with.
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on December 3, 2004
I like cubes, sugar cubes, beef bouillabaisse cubes, Rubik's Cubes (am I sound a bit like Forrest Gump?). So here we have a movie called Cube (1997). Actually, I purchased this a while ago, and since watched it a few times, but never got around to writing a review on it...until today. Directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali (his first film), Cube has a relatively small cast featuring Nicole de Boer (Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil), Nicky Guadagni (Storm of the Century-the TV mini-series, not the film), David Hewlett (Chasing Cain), Maurice Dean Wint (TekWar), Andrew Miller (Last of the Dogmen), and Wayne Robson (Cold Creek Manor). What that's? You've never heard of any of these actors? Well, neither did I, but then given the relatively low budget (well under $500,000) of this Canadian feature, I wasn't expecting Brad Pitt (or even his lesser known brother Stu Pitt...geddit? Stu Pitt? Ah well...)

As the story begins (the first scene is a hoot!), we witness a small group of rather disorientated people, dressed in prison-like garb, coming together within small, square room. They have no idea how they got there, or why, and have never met each other before now. We learn the intricately designed room is a cube, one of many, and each cube has six doors (one on each wall, along with the ceiling and the floor), each door leading to another cube. Also, some of the cubes contain lethal traps (acid, razor wire, flamethrowers, etc.) activated by a variety of different types of sensors. This just keeps getting better and we meet the various members of this small group, we find out that each person seems to have a particular talent, and what first appeared to be just a random grouping of people throw into a wacky death maze, now seems to be something each was picked for his or her specific talents. Well, that's seems like good news to the group, but the bad news is the pressures and the stress (along with a pinch of paranoia) threaten to tear the band of unfortunates apart, just as surely as the traps within the cube. As this plucky assemblage moves from room to room, they do find a pattern for orientation of the cubes, but is it one that will lead them to an exit? Or will it lead them to an acid soaked, sliced and diced, charbroiled demise? You'll just have to watch and see...

Alright, I will say this...the acting isn't that great, and the script and delivery of the dialog feels extremely clunky at times, but I was impressed and entertained with the originality of the story. As far as the story goes, we know as much about the situation the characters are in as they do, and learn things as they learn them, essentially putting the viewer in the cube, but without the possibly nastiness of suffering one of those ouchy traps. This will upset, frustrate, and even anger some viewers as people generally like to be in the know, like to have things explained, and need a reason for why things are...but I feel everything doesn't have to have a reason, and I don't need everything presented to me in easily digestible chunks. The film offers little to nothing in the way of what the cube is, its' purpose, or why these individuals were chosen to be placed inside. Also, the ending is purposely vague, as to coincide with the rest of the story. This sort of reminds me of Patrick McGoohan's popular Prisoner TV series...when it ended, some people were outraged at the ambiguousness of the ending, as they were looking for answers and yet few were forthcoming. I thought the direction was tight as Natali manages to keep things moving along. The set's pretty minimal, as they used the same cubed room over and over, but did give it the appearance of a different room by changing the colors. Nearly the entire film takes place in this cube, except for some scenes featuring some low budget, but decent CGI work.

One should be aware, as another reviewer pointed out, that there are (at this time) two different releases of this film on DVD. The one being sold here now is the new Signature Edition (the director's siggy is on the front), and released by Lions Gate Entertainment. The original DVD was released by Trimark, and has a slightly different cover. The newer release features a new anamorphic transfer with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix (Amazon has yet to update the DVD features on this product page). The Trimark release special features include Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, deleted scenes, comparative and alternate storyboards, production designs, set designs, special effects artwork, and a commentary featuring the director, actor Hewlett, and co-writer Andre Bijelic. The Lions Gate version has many same features (except the set design material and the voice over commentary on the deleted scenes), along with an interview with actress Nicole de Boer, and cleaned up menus. Also, they replaced the original commentary track with one featuring only the director. I mention this as if you are going to buy this used, make sure you get the version you want, either the original Trimark release or this new Lions Gate Signature release as there are differences, although the film is essentially the same. After reading many of the reviews, I see there are basically two opinions, those who really like the film, and those who hate it, suckered into watching it due to the good reviews. Well, I enjoyed the film, despite its' obvious flaws, but to those of you who have yet to see it, rent it first. For those interested, due to the popularity of this film in the realm of home video, a sequel called Cube 2:Hypercube (2002) was released. It's slicker than the original, not quite as good, but maybe worth a look if you liked this one.

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on November 11, 1999
A mixed group of people wake up to find that they are confined in a 3D maze of cube-shaped rooms with horrific traps in some and not in others.
This movie has a highly unusual premise in the sense that you don't know HOW or WHY but you just know that it IS and it must be dealt with - confused? See the movie and you will understand.
One facet of this movie is a play on the idea that we might have no idea why something is, but we find that we have to deal with it anyway. In this case, the characters are in a perilous situation, where doing nothing means death by starvation and doing something is likely to also result in death by ghastly trap.
The characters seem fairly stereotypical and the acting is a bit lame to begin with, but perseverence in watching this movie results in a genuinely disturbing experience. The absorbed viewer will feel hope, despair, joy, horror, anger, extreme tension and more - the feeling of being trapped, isolated and slowly going paranoid has rarely been manipulated so well as in this movie. Ironic then that all the action takes place in an inexplicable and stifling rat's maze where very little is explicitly shown to the viewer, and yet so much is implicitly revealed in the interactions of the trapped people and how they come to terms with their plight.
Highly recommended to anyone who really likes their movies and not recommended to those who prefer their thought of the day handed to them on a plate.
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on March 7, 2000
This extremely original thriller/Sci Fi is one of the most underrated films of the nineties. It recieved a limited showing in only a select few cinemas in the UK which was a real loss for the movie lover. It's probably because this film is so different that the critics and "those who be" generally didn't appreciate it. With the basic premise of the movie being that a group of people wake up to find they are trapped in a giant cube structure formed from many smaller cubes with no idea of how they got there or why they are there. You follow the characters in their attempts to solve the riddle of the cube in order to escape. The movie has a very claustrophobic feel, and is quite unsettling. And you become increasingly frustrated as the helpless victims begin to argue and fight with one another. The movie gives an interesting insight into human psychology and the various ways we act under pressure. This is an intense movie which leaves you confused and disturbed which is actually part of its brilliance. Unlike your typical Hollywood film where all loose ends are tied up neatly at the end (like a Scooby Doo mystery) this film wants to haunt you and leave you to make your own conclusions. And that's what I suggest you do.
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on July 24, 2000
Just because filmmakers of the Cube, having a low budget, filmed it in a single room doesn't mean that it is a B sci-fi. To tell the truth I have never seen a plot so original as in Cube. Some may think that it is boring to watch; I have to disagre with anyone who dislikes Cube because it is one intelligent creation that leaves us, attentive viwers, in a deep contemplative mood and with a long lasting impression. Cube is unique bcause it provides insights into human behavior. It is the movie that shows how several strangers deal with a dangerous situation and a position where they need to learn to cooperate in order to survive.
The plot is simple but unusual. A small group of strangers found themselves in a death trap or an extremely elaborate labyrinth of interconnected cubical rooms with lethal traps in some of them. Different rooms that are traps contain from elector-molecular to sound sensors and are equipped with either deadly flame-throwers, razor sharp knives that protrude through walls, acid sprays or something else that can brutally dismember an unsuspecting victim. At first there seems no order and no leads as were to go and how to avoid a trap for our characters, which results in panic and despair. But as time passes they discover that pattern exists and there is a reason why specifically each one of them is here. There happen to be a math genius, engineer, doctor and few other interesting individuals. Together they try to find a way out, and just when it seemed that they understand how the maze is structured there comes a surprise and a disappointment with another dose of despair. The labyrinth is much more complicated than it appears and it will take a huge mental and physical effort to solve it.
Without a doubt Cube is a brilliant film with a unique idea. I want to warn everyone that it is extremely intense and scary at times. I also want to point out that people with decent math background, or someone who likes math, will find it especially enjoying because it will be easier to understand how the puzzling trap was solved, and the exit found.
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on September 29, 2001
Cube is one of the most terrifying films I've seen. Freaky to death, you almost become insane yourself. The story is about six people who are emprisoned in a cubic complex. There are deadly traps in some of the rooms...There is one gate in the whole complex that gets you out of the place...The budget in this film was low...they wasted half of it on the first two minutes. But, for a low-budget film, it has very good special and gory effects and the actors are great too. The background is always the same, but the walls are different from one room from another. Paranoia, intolerance, fear, these subjects are all important in Cube. The film is also full of surprising twists. The first time you see it, you just can't believe it...the music is mainly made of creepy samples and contributes to the freaky atmosphere of the movie. Disturbing, intelligent, well acted, very well directed, wow, that's one huge discovery! Excellent, awesome. I know this ain't a masterpiece, but it is still too great for a 8. So now my choice is clear, even though you may think I'm too generous, I have to give it the mark it deserves. 9/10
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on May 28, 2004
What a great concept. A handful of people awaken to find themselves trapped inside a bunch of cubical rooms, connected by doors in each of the six faces. They have no idea where they are or how to get out, but since they have no food or water, they need to find out fairly quickly. But some of the rooms contain deadly booby-traps, and nobody knows how to tell which ones they are. Turns out all the rooms form one giant cube; nobody knows exactly why anyone wanted to construct such a complicated, useless, and potentially deadly piece of machinery -- let alone why anybody would deliberately put _people_ in it . . .
This premise would have been at home on the old 'Twilight Zone' series (or even on the original 'Star Trek', with the trapped parties being Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and 'Crewman Green'). And ya don't gotta be Kafka to smell the allegory; at any rate, if _your_ life has never felt like this, you probably won't like the movie.
The execution is very good too. Obviously a film like this requires a small ensemble cast and a script that manages to keep things interesting for an hour and a half even though all the 'action' takes place inside a series of practically identical cubical rooms. It has both. I won't spoil anything here, but there are some genuinely suspenseful moments and there's a lot of excruciating _psychological_ tension. (And not just from claustrophobia.)
I'm knocking off a star just because I just don't think the characters quite gel. They're interesting enough, but they're neither sufficiently complex to keep me fully engaged with them nor sufficiently 'archetypal' to support the allegory. In some respects their characterization occasionally seems inconsistent.
Very cool movie, though, and the slightly weak characterization isn't much of a drawback. It's not at all a 'hopeful' film and the ending won't make you gasp with moral relief; nor will all that many of your questions get answered. But if (like me) you enjoy that sort of movie, you'll especially enjoy this one.
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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2002
This movie drips of big aspirations. People trapped in a bizarre maze of rooms. The rooms, it turns out, are navigable, provided you're bright enough figure out their sophisticated, Rubik's Cube design. And, it turns out, the only person who might have enough brain power to ultimately get the right answer is a Rain Man-style savant who appears to be able to figure out mathematical problems that are best left to computers.
That's the window-dressing. The characters are archetypes. Rather crudely drawn archetypes, but serviceable nonetheless. Among them: the alpha male, whose penchant for control is equalled by capacity for brutality; the nurturing, but sterile woman who ultimately finds her humanity; the cynical, bright man who, at least temporarily, becomes a champion; the idiot savant, all innocence and brilliance, albeit annoying.
They recall, vaguely, a life before the cube. But what, exactly, is the cube? Is it a metaphor for modern life? Is it the afterlife? Is it a nightmare? Is it, like the oddly well-done Twilight Zone episode, a trashcan filled with discarded dolls. Well, the movie doesn't really answer that question. In its effort to be profound, it answers nothing. Sure, it provides some junior-psychologist insights into personality; it also toys with alienation and nihilism. But it lacks a satisfactory and satisfying ending. Movies don't need to be tied up in to neat little bows to be great. Often, the contrary is true. But the ending needs to be revelatory in some sense--to open vistas to which the story was leading, even if those vistas are mysterious, strange, unsettling, or vague. This is where Cube falls, no pun intended, flat. It is a minor melodrama, hinting of much, nicely stylized, a bit unexpectedly grisly, but ultimately unsatisfying.
Now, maybe that was the film makers' vision of the world. Odd, throwaway characters (nothing deep about any of them or there capacity for communication and interrelationships), jaundiced ideals, and a meaningless existence as to which the "outside" represents something unknown and simply "brighter" than the darkness of our own existence. Maybe. But even if that is the truth, it is a story not all that well told.
Why three stars? Because Cube, for all its faults, still makes you think a little, which is more than you can say for many, many movies. There are many "why's" about the ending that are worth ruminating as a jumping off point for some interesting questions--why that specific survivor, the purpose and origin of the "cube," and the significance of the final confrontation between the characters.
I'm not sure I can recommend buying this movie, but at least watch it.
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on October 27, 2001
I don't quite agree with what Kenneth John Taylor said about the movie in his review:
1. He gave away too much of the plot of the movie, especially the ending... he spoilt the movie for those who've read his review but not yet seen the movie.
2. He said the system couldn't be evil, and the system just IS. But come on, it's inside the system that people became irrational and nervous, and as a result of that, they started killing each other. No system would, of course, do the killings with its own... what, hands?? But it's in the sense that it induced evil doings that the system is said to be evil.
3. Yes, maybe there's really no big brother watching them from above. But it does not mean the people have their lives in their own hands. They are inside this system which none of them can change single-handedly. They all have to cooperate with each other if they are to have any hope of escaping it. But the system makes it difficult for them to act collectively. So the tragic outcome is never really in doubt.
In my opinion, Kenneth John Taylor, as well as many others, has often distorted a basic fact of life. They tend to put the blame on individuals (accusing them of being evil) whenever evil things happen. But that's not often true. The blame should be on the system which we are living in.
The system is continuously shaped by and affected all of us living inside it. When an evil thing happens, it is tempting for the outsiders to just blame those who are involved, as if the outsiders can legitimately distance themselves from the sin. But it is not so easy:
i) all of us have to be partly responsible for the bad things that happen inside the system because the system is constructed by no single individual, but virtually by all of us together (though not collectively);
ii) if there is a time when the outsiders are really faced with the desperate situations, they then may no longer be able to so clearly distinguish between "evil" and "self-defence." The system makes it tough for them.
How could Kenneth John Taylor (and many others) refuse to believe that he's (they're) also represented by one of the six types of people depicted in the movie? Remember in the end, almost all got killed. Who can confidently say he could do better than the others and escape the cube???
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on May 1, 2016
Based on the plot of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes...nice. The movie is well executed by the actors and crew. Writing made clear each character's background and belief system is an allegory to society without being preachy or in your face about it. Where the writing went astray a little was asking the audience to buy Quentin's quick transformation from the most stable and morally grounded character to a cold blooded killer...that was asking a bit much and felt shoehorned in. But overall a good, gripping survival thriller.
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