Cube [Signature Series]

Starring: Nicole deBoer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings
Directed by:
Vincenzo Natali
Written by: Andre Bijelic, Vincenzo Natali and Graeme Manson
Produced by: Mehra Meh, Betty Orr
Released by: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Run Time:
90 minutes
Edition Details: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Colour, Closed-captioned, Widescreen

DVD Features: Anamorphic, Dolby 5.1, director commentary, interview with Nicole deBoer, deleted scenes, storyboards, set design, effects artwork.



The DVD market can get quite confusing at times. Not only the whole region thingy, but also the fact that studios sometimes bring out various editions of one movie. Therefore, you would, for example get various editions of the original Men In Black. First, there's the Collector's Series edition, the Limited Edition and the Superbit edition!

This is the second release of Cube on DVD (or in the States at least), the first being under Trimark Home Video. Now it has been re-acquired by Lion's Gate films (whatever that means) and is distributed under their Signature Series banner. The Signature Series seems to consist of this independent distributor's more successful and well-known hits (in as much as art house flicks can qualify as hits that is) such as Amores Perros, Eve's Bayou and Monster's Ball.

How does this disk compare to the previous one? Apparently the image transfer is better (but not by much) but enhanced for widescreen TVs. While most of the original disk's features are ported to this one, this disk includes a new and apparently more informative director's commentary. In the process, an art gallery and some other audio options have been lost, but a short interview with actress Nicole de Boer has been added.

Anyway, here are some things I've learned listening to director Vincenzo Natali's very dry and serious audio commentary:

  • The film was made with a grant of 350 000 Canadian dollars by a Canadian film institute. The amount stayed the same regardless what film project it was - a sci-fi epic or intimate drama!

  • Those fancy doors seen never worked and only were only "fixed" halfway through the shoot. The prop girl laughed aloud when she heard the impressive whooshing sound they make in the movie after the final sound effects were added!

  • His initial idea for the movie was that of a group of chartered accountants (!) waking up in a fantastical old-fashioned maze. This maze would have alien food growing in it and so forth . . .

  • SPOILER AHEAD: Even in this original idea form, he made a point of not divulging the origin or purpose of the maze. END SPOILER!

  • SPOILER AHEAD: The movie tested badly with test audiences: they simply hated the ending, which explains nothing. Initially the idea was to have no-one escape from the cube, but this was considered too bleak - even for the filmmakers! The American distributors wanted the ending changed, but the director persisted. Besides, shooting a new ending would involve bringing back the cast, building a new set altogether (the sets were destroyed after filming) and it was estimated that this would cost as much as what the entire movie was filmed for in the first place! END SPOILER!

  • The maths in the movie is one hundred percent correct! They approached a statistician boffin with plot requirements and he worked out the math around that.

  • Most of the film was shot on hand-held camera. The camera whilst robust was quite noisy so they draped the cameraman under a thick cloak during shooting, and he ended up looking like The Elephant Man!

Judging from Cube, director Natalie is a talented guy and doors should have flown open for the guy, especially directing a movie for very cheap that managed to do quite well, especially in overseas markets (i.e., non-American markets). However, the movie he has directed since then seems to have stalled in that it took ages to find a distributor. The movie's name is Cipher and is an SF effort, one that deals with corporate espionage. Hopefully we'll get to see it soon.

WORTH IT? Don't let the dreaded art house label scare you off - Cube is quite a good sci-fi thriller that has built up a deserving cult audience since its original release back in 1997. (An unnecessary sequel, Cube 2: Hypercube was recently made by the way.)

RECOMMENDATION: If you own the original disk is there any sense in forking out for this one? Nope, it doesn't seem as if the Signature Series edition present a clear upgrade. However, if you do not own the movie at all or haven't rented it, then seeking out this edition would be the preferred option.



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