Mild SPOILER Warning

Omar: 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Vicenzo Natali’s Cube, now this is one that I had been wanting to watch for a very long time. Many years ago I came across this film online and the premise sounded so great that I could not wait to watch it. Over the years I would occasionally come across it on TV but either missed a portion of it or was only able to start it and had to leave before it finished. I was finally able to watch it from start to finish and I’m glad I did because it proved to be a very entertaining thriller. Of course if you’re looking at my score you can tell that I definitely had my problems with it and despite the entertainment value I feel like the film was held back in a couple of key ways.

This film starts out in an extremely gruesome manner but one that hooks you in right away. The basic setup to the movie is that a group of strangers find themselves locked in a industrial-looking cube-shaped room with doors on every side (meaning six doors per room). Each door can be opened by spinning the latch attached and opens to another seemingly identical room. The only difference being that some rooms are colored differently….oh yeah and some rooms have deadly traps in them that kill you within seconds. Any who, the original group of five strangers (eventually joined by another later in the film) provide more than enough fodder for cube’s endless gory traps as they try to figure out what the hell is going on and how to find their way out.

Lets start with things I liked about the film because I think it did many things very well. What I find to be the strongest point of the movie is the mystery of the cube. The plot and characters were a bit weak but the concept of the cube and the mystery that shrouds it were enough to keep me intrigued. The story does a good job of not telling you too much which keeps you guessing. Another thing I liked about the movie was the atmosphere of tension. When death potentially lurks behind every locked door and the only way to survive is to keep going through said doors there are obviously going to be some tense moments. The movie doesn’t just rest on this inherent tension though and does a good job of elevating these moments with claustrophobic and disorientation camerawork using techniques like zooming in for closeups on characters faces and angling cameras to look up at faces rather than straight on. There is also very limited use of any music except for during the most tense and crucial moments which again serve to elevate these moments even further. I also liked how the lighting worked in the film in that everything was made to feel and look so artificial and industrial, it added greatly to the feelings of claustrophobia and desperation to get out. Lastly, I also loved that the movie was ambitious enough to not be afraid of killing off anyone at any moment.

Now to what I didn’t like about the movie. The story beyond just the concept of the cube was pretty lackluster. The main characters felt flat and I had no reason to like or root for any of them. At the very end I started to pull for some of them but by then the movie was pretty much over. I actually found most characters to be sort of obnoxious to the point to which I felt nothing when they died and really didn’t care if they made it out of the cube or not. The next big thing I didn’t like about the movie was unfortunately the script. Other than simply feeling dated the script was also quite dry, interactions between characters felt stiff and phony. At times I also felt like the movie’s pacing was off, some moments  moved way too quickly and others dragged a bit.

In the end I give this movie a 3.0 out of 5 stars because while the concept was exciting and fascinating, the characters and script (two of the most important aspects to any film) were just too flat and uninspired. I did love how the film reminded me greatly of Portal 2! and I must say that I did enjoy the bit of irony at the end there though where: *SPOILER*  Kazan, the character who was least fit to survive in the real world where he was most likely treated as an outcast and who was most capable of surviving inside the cube, survived while the rest of the cast who was more suited to surviving in the outside world than the cube all died.

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