Friday, November 18, 2011

Movie Review: "Cube" by David Pretty

Let me put this on the table right away: "Cube" is a tremendous revelation.
Cube (Theatrical Trailer) by NakedBrotha2007 The premise brings to mind a particularly elaborate "Twilight Zone" episode. A cop with anger management issues, a paranoid doctor, an insecure student of mathematics, an e... read more

What Up, Cubical Monkeys?

Let me put this on the table right away: Cube is a tremendous revelation.  Don't believe me?  Just watch as the film's theatrical trailer posits some very intriguing questions:

The premise brings to mind a particularly clever Twilight Zone episode. A cop with anger management issues, a paranoid doctor, an insecure student of mathematics, an enigmatic defeatist, an autistic savant and a seasoned escape artist all wake up trapped inside an elaborate cubical structure without any memory of having gotten there.

They soon discover that this chamber is attached on all sides by similar rooms, some offering a possible route to freedom and others concealing deadly traps. Slowly clues begin to emerge about their unorthodox prison and our six "heroes" start to gain insight into each other's unique abilities. The question then becomes: will these divergent personalities work together to facilitate their escape or will paranoia, fear and desperation tear their hopes to shreds?

As I said before Cube is truly a marvel.  Although at face value the setting appears to be a labyrinthine construct, I believe director Vincenzo Natali employed innovation, creativity and guile to take a clever premise with a limited budget and turn it into something really special.  He likely requisitioned only one cube chamber set and with some brilliant editing, inventive lighting and dexterous camerawork, he built a structure limited only by the audience's imagination.

Although you can solidly classify Cube as a sci-fi film, there are certainly some horrible moments where the judicious use of incredibly convincing gore effects wallop the audience out of any doldrums. The practical set ups are used so deftly that every occurrence is designed for maximum impact.  CGI is also applied intelligently and primarily used to realize the many nefarious traps the characters must circumvent.

Right from the first few frames the scenario instantly snags the attentions of the audience and the smart scripting keeps us guessing. One particular sequence towards the end of the film wherein the characters must navigate a room filled with spring-loaded sound-sensitive blades is truly nail-biting.

The enigmatic nature of the titular cube itself is also fascinating.  For example, the numbers assigned to each chamber are obsessed over, misinterpreted and then decoded piecemeal with engaging effect. The cast is also absolutely fantastic and make the well-defined characters really come alive with tremendous realism.

It's high testimony when every personage in the film undergoes some sort of notable arc and also manages to defy audience expectations.  Thematically, you can have a blast considering the rich subtext at work here. Is the cube symbolic of 21'st century bureaucracy?  Is it a parable about being swallowed whole by our own overcomplicated modern lives?  Is it an observation about how we always misjudge human worth?

It was originally my intent to watch only about twenty minutes of this the other night but I couldn't keep my eyes off the damned thing.  It's a stellar film that serves as a perfect example of how an innovative film-maker can overcome budgetary restrictions and craft a completely convincing illusion rife with suspense, mystery and food for thought.

       Tilt: up.

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