Plot: What’s it about?
Six total strangers, one weird place. They don’t remember how they got there, but they know they’re there now. Quentin, a policeman, Leaven, a high schooler with a gift for math, Kazan, an autistic, Rennes, a convict/escape artist, Worth, an engineer with a dark secret, and Holloway, a psychologist, are all stuck inside a maze of rooms, each of which is the same size, just a different color. But walking through these rooms, which are about 14′ in every direction, is not as easy as pie. You see, some rooms are safe, others are wired to traps, such as acid, blades, mesh traps, you name it. In other words, you don’t really wanna guess which ones to go into, or might end up without your head. Rennes has been using the “boot” method, where he tosses one of his boots into a room, and if it trigger the sensors, then he doesn’t go in, if the boot survives, it’s safe. This method has not failed him yet, and the others trust him because of his expertise in sensors and escapes. As they progress through the cubes, they notice a numerical pattern on each of the six doors in each cube. As time passes and they get deeper into this maze, they discover that each of them has a talent or skill that may seem useless, but is vital to their escape. Can they work together and make it through this, or will they kill each other before they ever have a chance to escape?
This is a sweet movie. Shot entirely on one set, it gives a perfect illusion of a huge maze of cubes. That’s right, all they did was change the lights, and ::poof:: new cube! It looks fantastic though, and the repetition works well to make us feel what the characters are feeling. Since the film is character driven, the writers made sure to throw some unique personalities in the mix, and supply some suprising twists in there as well. And the traps…oh yes, the traps. Right from the start, we get to see this freak Alderson get reduced to Swiss cheese by one of the mesh traps. This may be low budget, but the effects of the mesh traps looks awesome! It is so cool to see someone just fall to pieces, and actually look realistic. Another interesting trap is the acid flower, which sprays a burst of acid into the cube-dweller’s face, leaving a large hole where their face used to be. Again, the effect looks great, much better than I expected from a lower budget film. I was skeptical about how a film set in the same environment throughout the film would keep me interested, but Cube was thrilling, from chapter one to the closing credits. The suspense is great, and I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting for the “boot” method and the “prime number” method to fail, and give me another excellent death scene.
In a movie like Cube, where just six actors perform, they have to work well, or the movie dies. This cast does a very good job at bringing depth and development to these characters, bringing the tension and frustrations of their characters to life. Playing the role of Quentin, who assumes the role of leader, is Maurice Dean Wint, who also starred in Rude, an urban comedy. Leaven, the math whiz, is played by Nicole de Boer, and David Hewlett (Scanners 2: The New Order) plays the role of the engineer, Worth, who turns out to have a history with the cube, but what is that history? The free clinic doctor, Holloway, is acted by Nicky Guadagni, who I find annoying, but maybe she’s supposed to be that way. Andrew Miller is the actor behind the autistic Kazan, and Julian Richings (Urban Legend) plays Alderson, who gets offed before the title logo shows up. And finally, my favorite member of this cast, Wayne Robson (Two If By Sea), who acts as the escape artist Rennes. Rennes is such a cool guy, informing the others that he only wants them around for their boots (for his “boot” method). What a great guy. Cube is not a film for everyone, I will say that. But for people who enjoy hard sci/fi, suspense, and just plain off beat filmmaking, this is a nice movie to watch. I recommend a rental, only because the movie may not have a lot of rewatch value to many readers. Cube has a permanent place in my film library though, where it shall stay…forever! Anyway, this disc is a great treatment, with features and a nice transfer, so just give it a chance.
Video: How does it look?
Cube is brought to us in a nice 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, with no anamorphic enhancement, and of course, no full frame option. The print looks very good, better than the low budget imagery I was expecting. Colors are bright, usually coming from the glow of the cubes’ walls. The movie is very dark, and although black levels are a little bright in places, they are solid for the most part, so most details are visible. I could not find any compression errors either, and the print looked very clean.
Audio: How does it sound?
Now, Cube is not an audio movie. It takes place in cubes, where there is no sound, other than the characters talking, and every once and again, a loud, mechanical sound, like gears or something. So, don’t plop this disc in to impress your friends with your audio set up. The disc sounds good though, and dialogue is always easily audible, as are the minimal effects that appear. The sound effect used for the trap trigger is very cool, by the way. The music is wicked, like a low volume eerie soundtrack, perfect for this movie.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Cube is packed with goodies! You get some comparative and alternate storyboards, which let you see some sequences that didn’t make the filming, and also compare the boards to the final product. Trimark also included three deleted scenes, which are interesting, but it’s easy to why they got the ax. You also get a gallery of concept art, which I am a huge fan of! You get some early sketches of production design, like costumes, the outer shell of the cube, etc. You also get drawings of the traps and some early renderings of the set. Very cool! The main draw here though, is the running commentary with director Vincenzo Natali, co writer Andre Bijelic, and actor David Hewlett. Very little is revealed in the film about the cubes, so I am glad I listened to the commentary which sheds a little light on some mysteries the movie leaves us with. You also get the trailer, as well as three bonus trailers for other Trimark releases.