Cube (UK - BD RB)
Chris takes a look at this claustrophobic Canadian psychological horror from '97
When six strangers find themselves trapped in a surreal and seemingly endless maze, they soon discover that their mysterious captors may not be as dangerous as their fellow inmates.
Awakening from their daily lives in a maze-like structure, the six prisoners must try to work together to find their way to safety. They quickly discover that they each possess a unique skill that will aid them in their task. However, deadly, twisted traps and their own escalating fear may in fact be their undoing. (Taken from the PR.)
Having previously bought the Dutch E1 Blu-ray release of Cube I had some idea of what to expect from this release. However, while this version does offer some improvements over the E1 disc they aren't as pronounced as something like, say, Blade II, and some aspects are actually worse. At times the image is gritty, owing largely to the fact that the film was shot predominantly in low light conditions with a hand-held camera. Even so this actually works in the picture's favour and there are relatively pleasing levels of detail on display throughout, although some scenes do exhibit softness. Compression is also improved over the Dutch effort, with this particular disc boasting a larger file size and a higher bitrate. With that said, as the screens below demonstrate there isn't actually a huge amount in it. Film artefacts are still present in exactly the same spots as the Dutch disc, which leads me to conclude that both use the same master. The other key difference is the colour palette, which has a slight red shift that isn't apparent on the Dutch disc and is something I'm not too keen on. Even so the image holds up fairly well on your average display and will certainly please fans who have only ever seen the DVD version.
Cube arrives on Blu-ray with a reasonably healthy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Most of the action occurs at the front of the soundstage and includes a number of neat stereo pans, along with dialogue that is generally well-prioritised and centrally anchored. The rears are used sparingly, mainly for things like the opening of the cube's various hatches, the activation of its traps, the occasional audio sting and the score. There is also some surprisingly solid bass as the cube's rooms move around, but we're not talking earth-shattering levels all the same. Okay, so you’re not going to be using it as demo material, but the track is atmospheric and does an effective job given that it only has one location to work with for ninety minutes. (It is for these reasons that I've gone with such a respectable mark.)
Unlike my bare-bones Dutch disc Lionsgate's UK release of Cube does at least include a smattering of bonus material. There's still not as much here as I'd like to see on a '15th Anniversary Edition', but it's better than nothing.
- Audio Commentary with Case and Crew: Co-writer/director Vincenzo Natali, co-writer Andrea Bijelic and actor David Hewlitt talk us through the creative process and share on-set anecdotes
- Interview with Nicole de Boer: A short interview with the diminutive star of the film
- Storyboard Sequences: A series of storyboards. Duh.
This viewing marks the third or fourth time I’ve seen Cube over the years, the most recent last year via the aforementioned Dutch Blu-ray. I think my opinion of the film has remained largely unchanged, in that it’s an enjoyable little movie that effectively creates an unsettling mood and sense of paranoia, but is a little rough around the edges. Some of the acting is, shall we say ‘unique’, and the budgetary limitations are obvious throughout. That said, I enjoyed my time with the characters and came away wanting to know more, but I was ultimately glad that the filmmakers didn’t go down the traditional route and kept things largely ambiguous. This Blu-ray is actually quite pleasing from an audio-visual standpoint – it’s certainly leaps and bounds ahead of the DVD anyway – and I’m grateful for the inclusion of some bonus content, even if it’s really only the commentary track that stands out.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
The images below present a comparison between the UK AVC encoded release of Cube (top) and the Dutch VC-1 encoded version (bottom). As you can see, the difference is negligible.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 15th October 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Audio Commentary, Interview, Storyboard Sequences
Easter Egg: No
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Cast: Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson
Genre: Horror and Mystery
Length: 90 minutes
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