Friday, June 25, 2010

Film #30: Cube (1997)

The horrors of the cube!
Each weekday we are sentenced by “life” to endure the seemingly endless cube torture.
Danger, mayhem and mind-melting boredom lurk within every dark Formica corner.
Beware the nine-foot-high stack of manila folders, full of work, just waiting for the right time to absorb and eat you ala The Blob, or fly down one by one to paper-slice your eyelids.

Oh, the incessant hell-scream ringing of that devilish number-adorned device that tears apart the mind by connecting you to morons and assholes.
Even if you can survive the cuts and conversations, not even the strongest mind can withstand the most insidious contraption of the cube: the looming illuminated “Dell” portal one is forced to stare into for hours. First your eyes dry up into microwaved berries, then begins the machine's nefarious plot to slowly suck one’s mind and corrupted corporate soul.

No, don’t make us go back! It’s not Monday yet! Seriously, we have vacation time to use! VACATION TIME! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

As horrific as your 9 to 5 cube may get, it ain’t got nuthin’ on the namesake square of this week’s frightful feature. Seven strangers wake up in their worst nightmare… they are stuck in a cube with FOUR walls and no smoke breaks, internet or escape. Talk about a lack of work/life balance.

Like David Hasselhoff on a Saturday night, no one has a clue how they got there, or just where “there” is. Each person’s background is seemingly random at first: a geeky teenage math whiz, a jail-bird with a penchant for escapes, a gruff, life-weathered cop, a bleeding heart doctor, a mentally disabled man, and a boring, life-hating pencil pusher.
The wall, ceiling and floor of their cubed prison have futuristic doors that lead to the other (literally) 17,000 cubes, but don’t pick the wrong one! Some cubes allow safe passage, but others are booby-trapped with complex, murderous devices that are quick to melt your face off or chop-suey your sternum.

What the hell? Are they in some sort of alien prison? A Saw-like maze developed for some rich sicko’s amusement? A government-controlled psychological experiment?
The group doesn’t want to stick around to figure it out, and begins to carefully make their way through the seemingly endless cube maze – desperately seeking an exit.

Along the way, our confined friends soon realize they are not quite so random after all… each holds a unique talent that if utilized properly, could lead them to the leave their cubbyhole cage.

However, they also discover that human nature, not the murderous devices, will be the biggest barrier to their escape… and survival. Take away food, water, comfort and security, and it seems different types of people don’t get along in stressful situations… and it doesn’t help that the mentally-challenged man keeps screaming in rooms wired with sound-triggered spikes.
It’s a cube breakout attempt equal to downtown at 4:59 on a Friday, in 1997’s “Cube.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 4.7
Chris Dimick figures:
“Gotta love a horror movie with a message. Dawn of the Dead had one (commercialism is a waste of life), The Mist did too (fundamentalist religion should never compromise logic/it ain’t over till the fat lady sings) and much to my delighted surprise, Cube has one as well.
Actually, there are two messages in Cube. The first is horribly depressing, and something a person can’t really take back to their own life without becoming a mountain man. But, just because it is depressing doesn’t mean it’s void of merit!

I can’t get too specific with this message without ruining parts of the film… which my movie-soul won’t allow me to do since I highly recommend watching this flick. But it goes a little something like this: government committed atrocities happen because the blame is so fragmented, so shared, that no one feels they deserve to take the responsibility. Everyone, and no one, is at fault for the demonic things we do under the guise of “our country”. As long as we are comfortable and not directly affected, we can just shrug, turn off the TV footage, and down a six-pack while wrapped in the comfort that these travesties are someone else’s fault, and business.

The second point in Cube focuses on human nature, and is thankfully a lesson that can be applied daily without becoming a nihilist. Even though it wasn’t obvious to the characters, each person trapped in that Cube-hell was there for a reason, and held a piece of the puzzle to surviving the ordeal. Everyone… from the weak teenage girl, to the autistic man.

Message: don’t count somebody as worthless just because you can’t see how they contribute to the whole. You might just be missing the big picture – looking at what’s directly in front of your face (what is inside that Cube) and not thinking about the structure as a whole.
Each of us has a role, a purpose, even though the opportunity to exploit this specialty may not have revealed itself yet.

Within this point, Cube also makes a darker comment on human nature…we are kill or be killed. In extreme situations, the key to our survival is to stick together and trust that we each have worth in the situation. But that key is almost always thrown down the sewer of life in the panic, and non-rational, animal instincts win out. The law of the jungle says: “the weak endanger the pack.”

Holy poop, I’m being so serious! It’s a freaking horror movie, Chris! Lighten up!
Good advice, Chris. I’ll just pop a few Xanax here and….(plop, plop, fizz, fizz)
Aside from all the “messages,” Cube is just a really kick ass horror movie! I mean, you get to see a guy sliced into a thousand cube-like pieces by a futuristic death machine! I was all like “whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

From start to finish you are going to be entertained by this movie. Intrigued even. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. This is a setting- and character-driven horror movie, two elements that can easily be tossed to the hungry dogs in a horror plot. The situation is horrific, but after awhile you don’t care much about what crazy killer bobby-trap lurks in the next cube. You are too busy trying to figure out the mystery, and see how the characters are going to react next.
You can see this film reflected in the first few Saw movies… you know, the good ones. Same kind of “put people in horrific situations and see how they act” type biz.

Be forewarned, however, to bring some bread and butter, because this movie has so much CHEESY acting that if applied to said perishables and roasted over heat, one would have enough grilled sandwiches to feed John Goodman and Kirstie Alley COMBINED! Zing!

Once I’ve had my Xanax, I’m an easy enough going guy and can usually overlook bad acting if a movie’s plot, writing and direction make up for the blunders. Some are not as forgiving, and I can see their point. Therefore, the only reason this movie isn’t rated 5.0 is due to the acting. There were some over-the-top dialog exchanges that had me howling with laughter… but that isn’t always a bad thing, right?

Can’t decide if you want a horror movie or a thought provoking drama?
Choose Cube if you are looking for a movie to spark a few life discussions.
Choose Cube if you are looking for a fun Friday night flick to eat popcorn to.
Like the performers at Halsted Street’s Kit-Kat Club, Cube offers the best of both worlds.

N-Rating: 4.0
Nick Rich figures:
"Cube presents yet another unique reviewing opportunity for us here at the RDHP and our readership (aka Jim): the first impression and the second viewing. In case you weren't able to figure it out by the ratings, I've been fated to provide the second viewing experience.

The first time I saw Cube was around its original release circa 1998. As a young lad having recently become a so-called "adult," I found this film to be amazing - it was innovative, intriguing and insightful. It had so much going for it (which is why I wanted to add it to the RDHP lineup) and made such a great impression that I, frankly, didn't remember the lack-luster parts. Even as I write this, there's a part of me that is already forgetting the bad parts and whispering "well, I suppose we could raise the rating" (yes, when I hear voices in my head I become a 'we'). But, alas, it is my burden, nay, duty to provide the second viewing review:

Cube (at second glance)
Certainly, Cube is a movie that is more than worth seeing and I definitely recommend you give it a 'go' as our characters in the film do... but I would advise against attempting a repeat performance. Cube is a lot like the Blair Witch Project in that it provides you with a situation and experience like none you've ever encountered before... sure there are other films that are similar and you can trace where the idea had its roots, but in their execution, these films feel refreshingly original. However, unlike the Blair Witch Project which (hehe witch, which) goes beyond the initial awesome viewing to be intensely creepy every time you view it, Cube falls short of being a re-watchable classic.

Cube is such a great experience the first time through that on a second viewing, you find yourself disappointed that it's just not as good as you remember it. What ever is? Memory is a tricky thing, in that it tends to filter out anything bad if there's an enjoyable aspect to a situation and store the good for posterity... and Cube gives you quite an enjoyable first viewing. Sure, the film is still well executed (except for the aforementioned 'cheese' factor) but as you watch it for the second time, all you can do is think 'hrmm, didn't this effect blow my mind before?' and 'gee, I remember being way more impressed with that idea...'. As a result you begin to resent the film due to its lack of staying power and regret watching it again because it is tarnishing your well preserved memory of it.

None of this is really Cube's fault, it more than achieved the fundamental goal of every film: provide an awesome experience. But films like Cube remind us of how special other movies are in that their magic can be experienced again... and again... and again. Oh Cube! Like a high school sweetheart, I'll try to remember you as you were and not as you are.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you haven't seen it, or if you want to experience what it would be like if your small town summer stock troupe made a horror film - 'to be or not to be, that is like da question, eh?'

Quote of the Viewing
[Context: Several of the Cube trapped people turn on cynical Worth when they grow suspicious of his actions. Quentin decides using Worth as a human booby-trap detector is a good idea.]
Chris: “They can’t kill Worth! If they do, they will ALL be Worthless.
Nick: “That joke isn’t even worth a boo.”
Chris: “I could respond to that comment, but it isn’t worth it.”

Things We Learned from Cube
-Everyone has a purpose, even ‘tards (settle down, just kidding).
-Screw Rolex. A hour is as long as Quentin says it is.
-Prime numbers are bad!
-Cops can read people like an x-ray.
-Sucking on a button keeps the “saliva flowin’”
-Eating perogies = being kidnapped
-“Holy Cats!” is a perfectly adequate expression after discovering you’re trapped in a murderous cube.
-Red rooms make autistic guys freak out.
-Your Algebra teacher was right, math can save your life:

RDHP Presents:
Secret Government Experiments/Conspiracies
One theory our Cube-mates have about their deadly situation is they are part of a secret government experiment. It’s a plausible theory, and if true would just add to the ever growing list of other horrific government experiments/conspiracies being conducted on the American people today. Below, we blow the lid off a few in classic screaming homeless man fashion!

Justin Bieber is a Recruiter Robot!
What better way to enlist new recruits for the military. The brass first build crooning tween sensation Bieber and then implant subliminal messages into his warbling music that force people to enlist in the Army. The stupid hair cut trend was unintended, just another causality of war.

Dental Fillings are Gov. Microchips!
Dentist implant these mind-controlling microchips while you are strapped down and oblivious to the world in those reclining torture chairs. Next thing you know you are trying a yellow ribbon around your front yard tree, eating processed cheese, and blindly trusting elected leaders to do what’s best for you.

Coke and Pepsi Are the Same Thing!
Sure, they WANT you to think they are rivals, but Coke and Pepsi have been secretly stashing their mounting fortunes so one day they can buy off the government and turn the Great Lakes water into sizzling pop! That money will be used to give President Obama his much desired breast implant/junk-removal surgery, finally making him the first African-American AND woman president in US history. It is a liberal super-person! He’d be unstoppable!

JFK Faked His Own Death!
Grassy knoll, Lee Harvey Oswahhhh? All whoey. You believe everything THEY tell you? With the help of the CIA, JFK actually faked his own death so he could escape the icy-grip of Jackie O’, and entertain another kind of O with real love Marilyn Monroe. YOU probably thought she died from a drug overdose… sucker. The two ran away to Area 51 where they lived on the taxpayer’s dime smoking drugs, making sex, and listening to that rock and roll music.

Aliens Walk Among Us!
The Roswell Incident was the just the beginning of our government’s encounters with alien life. Today these freaks from beyond space and US officials are so chummy that the aliens have been allowed to walk freely down our own streets. Just look some well known faces when the prostheses and make-up are removed!

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