CUBE (1997)



I think I might have watched this in college but I really didn’t remember much of it. Watching it now I think the idea is pretty interesting and the special effects are certainly better than they could have been, but I think overall the individual characters’ stories weigh down the film’s potential. I was super into everything about the cube and what it did but I never really felt like I wanted any of the characters to make it through.

If you have not seen this I think the concept is interesting enough to check it out but it’s really not a movie that will scare you, it’s just interesting. I guess check it out?

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I think Cube is one of the best examples I know of of a movie that succeeded in concept and execution, but failed in the end with the story. I saw it in high school and it was certainly one of the most memorable movies I saw during that time period. I thought about it a lot, but was always frustrated by it, too.

Cube is about five people who wake up in a cube of immeasurable size, filled with small, booby-trapped rooms. They don’t know how they got there, who everyone else is, or how to get out. They realize everyone has a different job or “purpose:” Leaven (Nicole de Boer) is a young math genius, Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint) is an aggressive cop, Holloway (Nicky Guadagni) is a doctor, Worth (David Hewlett) is some kind of engineer or architect, Rennes (Wayne Robson) is an escape artist, and Kazan (Andrew Miller) is mentally handicapped.

They have rudimentary methods for checking if a room is booby-trapped at first (by holding onto the shoelaces of a boot and throwing the boot into the room), until they notice numbers on each door connected to all the rooms. Leaven starts finding patterns in the numbers to indicate if a room is trapped or not. The more they move around, though, the more they learn about the numbers and what they actually mean. The people themselves start to disintegrate, too: Rennes is killed by a trapped room, Quentin gets more and more unhinged, and everyone goes nuts when they find out that Worth was involved in building the cube. And that’s where we come to what I feel is the first biggest issue.

Worth says he designed the outer shell surrounding the cube but that he doesn’t know who hired him and he only ever talked to other contractors working on other parts of the cube, but he does reveal he knew people were being put into the cube for two months before. While everyone freaks out appropriately, what no one does is make Worth tell them every single thing he knows. If he helped design or build the shell to the cube, wouldn’t he know some kind of dimensions? You can’t make a building endless and then have one the characters be someone who designed a shell around the building. Wouldn’t Worth have a really good idea of its size? What does he know about people being put in the cube? All he says is he knows it was happening, but how? The fact that everyone didn’t grill him to death is either poor writing or due to the fact that the characters are all pretty nuts at this point.

Eventually, once they all find themselves back in the room that holds Rennes’ dead body, they realize that the rooms within the cube are moving. Leaven realizes the numbers on the doors are actually coordinates on a moving plane (or something) and that Kazan can factor astronomical numbers, which is what they need to figure out the coordinates (. . . or something, I was basically following but have no real concept of math so whatever). In the end, it’s just Leaven, Worth, and Kazan in the room that they believe is on the edge of the cube. Earlier, Quentin killed Holloway and Worth presumably killed Quentin. At the last second, however, Quentin comes back and kills Leaven and Worth, but not before Worth has enough strength to kill Quentin. That leaves Kazan as the only one left, and he’s the only one who walks out of the cube into a blinding white light. The end.

On one hand, it makes sense that nothing is explained. We wake up in the cube just like the characters, so we only know what they know. But on the other hand, it feels like a cop out. The filmmakers presented this insane concept and instead of giving any resolution they basically leave it as a thought experiment, but in movie form. To me the difficult thing here was not coming up with the concept but figuring out how to make a story from it and how to solve it, which the filmmakers didn’t do. As far as we know, the filmmakers have no idea what happened in Cube, and that drives me crazy. I want to at least think that the filmmakers have the answer and when it doesn’t seem that way it feels pointless. Why would you sit down to hear a story that you know has no ending? It’s just frustrating, and given the fact that I think almost everything else about the movie is really good, it’s also really disappointing.


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