Cube is a Canadian science fiction/horror film series, consisting of Cube, Cube 2: Hypercube, and Cube: Zero. The first movie is directed by Vincenzo Natali, the second by Andrzej Sekula, and the third by Ernie Barbarash.The three movies are each based on the same premise; there is a gigantic, mechanical, cube-shaped structure (the purpose and origin of which is almost completely unknown) that is made up of lots of smaller cube-shaped rooms. Each of these rooms has 6 doors, one on each wall and one on the ceiling and one on the floor, which lead into adjacent, identical rooms, only differing by color. Some of these rooms are safe, while others are equipped with booby traps such as flamethrowers and razorwire which kill a person who enters the room.In each case, a group of strangers wakes up in this mysterious structure, with no knowledge of how they got there or why they are there. In order to escape from the prison, however, they must band together and use their combined skills and talents to avoid the traps and navigate out of the maze, while also trying to solve the mystery of what the cube is and why they are in it. However, the pressure of being in the cube usually drives one or more of the characters insane, and they start killing the others.Cube Zero was slightly different from the original two movies in that it also dealt with some people on the outside of the cube whose job it was to control the cube and oversee those within. It also attempted to answer some of the questions of the series.Not to be confused with The Cube.
In the first movie, Holloway and Quentin both during their discussion of each other's pet theories on the origins of the Cube. She believes that the military-industrial complex created the place, which he dismisses because he believes government organizations are just composed of people like him, whose goals in life are to "buy big boats", not conspire. Quentin believes that the structure is a rich psychopath's entertainment, comparing it to The Man with the Golden Gun, to which Holloway reacts as if he just said that the moon is made of cheese. Granted that Quentin’s theory is more outlandish than hers (and his citing of a stereotypical Bond villain doesn't really help his argument), but she didn't need to start acting like a Jerk Ass by ridiculing him for it (Not that it makes his murder of her partly in retribution for this any more justified).
In Hypercube, Max calls the rest of the group crazy for even considering that space and time could be distorted in the cube (despite repeatedly witnessing things that are physically impossible, such as the rooms instantaneously moving around) and argues that there has to be a logical explanation, such as an optical illusion. At the same time he berates the others for not believing in his conspiracy theories, and is convinced that the cube is operated by a mysterious superhacker called Alex Trusk.
Cut and Paste Environments: All of the rooms look the exact same minus the colours, justified because it's a maze. The set of the first movie actually is the same room over and over, with different color lights. (They didn't even have the budget to use six different colors, so it gets somewhat repetitive.)
Empty Room Until The Trap: Played straight by almost every room in the series, but for some unexplained reason averted in the room that killed Meyerhold in Cube: Zero, which still contains the "remains" of multiple people.
The rooms that contain corpses continue to contain them until the Clean Sweep. There were just that many people in there.
A House Divided: Recurring plot point. In the original the booby traps only kill two of the seven characters. In the second it's the guy with the knife who goes on a killing spree, while the third has one character wirelessly "reactivated" as a supersoldier.
Kill 'em All: the survival rate in the series' entries is, successively, 1:0:2.
Mind Screw: The first movie intentionally gives no explanations for anything. The second and third movies do, but as they were written and directed by different people, they can't get the internal logic straight. The DVD commentary on the first one states in no uncertain terms that the world outside the cube does not exist. It doesn't withhold explanations as much as erase every possibility that explanations could exist.
Hypercube: "The first one had rules."
Minimalism: There are fewer than five sets in the entire first film. The other two to a lesser extent, although they also use a very minimal number of sets and locations.
Ontological Mystery: Aside from being a basic survival story this is the major plot point of the movies, particularly the first one, although the sequels adhere to this progressively less and less.
Room 101: While never specifically revealed, there is some speculation that the cube is one of these. Even if you manage to live through the deadly deathtraps of death, the massive psychological horror experienced within might make you wish you hadn't. And that's only if the people outside the cube don't immediately kill you.
In the original Cube, characters are repeatedly set up as heroes in an escape for their lives from a mechanical maze, but they all end up dying or being killed by another character, except for The Rainman character. He would be the only person who could sound the alarm or summon help, but would not be able to communicate the situation, assuming he understood it at all.
The sequel Hypercube is even worse. After many perils, the main heroine manages to escape the maze but once her superior has received what she was sent in to find, he has her unceremoniously executed for no apparent reason. Her facial expressions indicate that she knows what's coming, but she does not try to resist or escape.
Cube Zero, a prequel to Cube shown from the point of view of the maze operators, reveals that the savant was in all likelihood killed by the operators moments after the first film's ambiguous ending due to a cryptic line near the start of the movie. It also turns Rains manages to escape, but will continue to be pursued until recaptured. Wynn is lobotomized and thrown back in the Cube like many Cube "Operators" before him. Everybody else dies except for the villains.
Big Brother Is Watching: Discussed and actively defied by Worth. He reveals that he worked on the construction of the Cube, but when the other characters question who is ultimately responsible and secretly controlling and watching their lives, he explains that there is no leader, and the Cube is a public works project without a purpose, operating under the pretense of a grand plan. He caps it off with "Big Brother is not watching you."
Dead Star Walking: The guy billed as the star of the movie and pictured on the poster gets diced five minutes in.
Decoy Protagonist: Alderson. Most of the other characters could arguably fit this trope at one point or another; one of the selling points of the movie is that the viewer's perception of the characters is meant to change as the movie progresses.
Gorn. Many of the traps have extremely gory results.
Idiot Ball: Holloway continuing to insult and argue with Quentin after the point it has become blatantly obvious he has become a violent psychopath. Generally speaking going out of your way to mock such a man is fairly counter-intuitive to your own survival which she unfortunately finds out to her cost.
Idiot Savant: Kazan, a severely mentally handicapped man who, to the rest of the people trapped in the Cube, is a nuisance at first, constantly banging his head against the walls, making weird honking noises and babbling about gumdrops. But later on it's discovered that he could find the prime factors of huge numbers in his head, and he ends up as their savior.
It Can Think: Applied to a structure instead of a monster, but it still fits the purposes of the trope. The protagonists openly wonder if the Cube is actually watching them and calculating. According to the sequels, there are human operators.
Kick the Dog: Quentin trying to rape Leaven after Holloway's death.
Laughing Mad: Worth, briefly, upon rediscovering Rennes's dead body.
Location Theme Naming / Meaningful Name / Theme Naming: All the characters are named after prisons. Quentin is named after San Quentin State Prison in California, Holloway after the Holloway Prison in London, Kazan after the prison in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. Rennes is named after a prison in Rennes, Britanny, France, Alderson after the prison in Alderson, West Virginia, and Leaven and Worth after the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The characters themselves reflect the prisons in their traits. Kazan (the autistic man) is a disorganized prison. Rennes (the "mentor") pioneered many of today's prison policies. Quentin (the policeman who eventually goes Ax-Crazy) is known for brutality. Holloway is a women's prison. Alderson (who is killed before even so much as seeing another human being within the cube) is a prison where isolation is a common punishment. Leavenworth runs on a rigid set of rules (Leaven's mathematics), and the new prison is corporately owned and built (Worth, hired as an architect).
Potential Fridge Brilliance here: There are two prisons at Forth Leavenworth: The civilian United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, and the military United States Disciplinary Barracks.
Meaningful Echo: Partway through the movie, Quentin says "Trust me on this. It's my job to read people like an x-ray." This is later echoed as "Try and see what I see. How my mind works. The flash when I look into someone's head like a fucking x-ray!", turning a previously innocuous line into proof of just how crazed and delusional he really is.
Moral Event Horizon: Quentin crosses it in-universe when he allows Holloway to drop to her death, then goes even further along when he tries to abandon Worth and Kazan, tries to rape Leaven, and violently beats Worth with a boot. It is after this that Leaven refuses to go anywhere near him.
Nobody Poops: Averted, as at least one character takes a leak in a corner.
Take My Hand: Subverted. As Holloway is lowered into the unthinkable abyss outside the cube by the other characters, using a rope made of their clothes, the structure shakes and everyone drops the rope. She begins to fall and Quentin is the only one who quickly manages to grab the slipping rope, almost getting pulled down himself. He then manages to pull back all of the rope and grab Holloway's hand, but just as she lets out a sigh of relief his smile turns to a psychopatic stare and he drops her.
The Un Reveal: The movie ends just as the lone survivor has found the exit and manages to escape. To twist the knife further, he's The Rainman, and so severely mentally disabled that he would be unable to tell anyone what he discovered. Then, according to Cube Zero, Kazan started the incident as one of the Cube operators, meaning he's known from the first second just how fucked up the monstrosity was.
Unusual Euphemism: Averted, as most characters will drop F-bombs when adequately frustrated, but as for Holloway...
Holloway: Cats! Holy, holy cats!
Writers Cannot Do Math: If a certain property of numbers is a key plot point, then make sure those numbers are right!!
Also in that Leaven takes several seconds to figure out if the first two numbers she examines are prime, despite one ending in five and one being an even number, which ought to be the first thing she checks (as they mean the number is divisible by five and two, respectively).
Leaven gives up when she discovers that powers of a prime can indicate trapped rooms, declaring the problem "AS-TRO-NO-MI-CAL!" (i.e. incalculable by a limited human mind), when in fact all powers of primes less than 1000 would be easy to tabulate. Kazan takes on the task, gleefully echoing "Astronomical!".
Also, she "can't even start" factoring 567. The digits add to a multiple of nine, so there is an easy starting point of dividing by nine.
Semi-Justifiable in that she's not thinking perfectly clearly, what with being trapped in a death-maze and all.
Cube 2: Hypercube
Action Girl: Although not as pronounced in the beginning, when the situation requires it, Kate is remarkably strong and skilled at fighting (as demonstrated by the numerous times she managed to beat Simon's ass whenever he tried to restrain her or fight her). Of course, it's later revealed in the Twist Ending that Kate was actually a hired professional from Izon whose mission was to retrieve Alex's necklace.
Artistic License - Mathematics: Despite being continually referred to as such, a hypercube is not an incomprehensible megastructure with over sixty million cubical rooms, instantaneously moving rooms, time travel, and intersecting parallel universes. It is simply a four-dimensional geometric concept, also known as a tesseract. While it does seems like a tesseract early on (going 4 rooms in one direction seemingly takes you back to where you started) the structure seems to have five or more dimensions (apparently counting time as one), so calling it a "hypercube" is like calling a cubist sculpture "a square".
Ascetic Aesthetic: In constrast to the first Cube, this cube has a user-friendly look, with sleek white surfaces and touch-to-open panels.
The Bad Guy Wins: The overseers of the Hypercube kill everyone they set out to get rid of by throwing them into the highly dangerous environment, and retrieve Alex Trusk's device. And they kill Kate, their own employee, probably because she knew too much or because it was a suicide mission from the start.
Blind Seer: The blind character Sasha can sense the environment's threats coming long before any of the others.
Of course, that could be due to her actually helping to design the cube, and so she knows vaguely what kind of threats there are. She could've just been acting as though it were supernatural feelings that caused her to "sense" it, instead of letting people know who she was and why she knows the dangers.
Conspicuous CG: Really obvious at several points - when Kate uses the doors to tackle I Am A Humanitarian from behind, it switches to VERY obvious CG as extra frames appear, when Kate approaches the time limit and the cube begins to collapse, and at the ending, as Kate is shot and the movie ends, it is VERY obvious that it was CG - human bodies do not fall like that.
Driven to Suicide: Subverted and played straight with Colonel Maguire. The first time around he's saved in time by the group, but the second time he voluntarily chains himself to a wall so he can be killed by one of the traps, before swallowing the key.
Gorn: Averted. The only one who dies a bloody death is Jerry, and even his is sort of... abstract.
Hackette: The superhacker Alex Trusk turns out to be Sasha. Her name is the Russian diminutive of Alexander/Alexandra.
I'm a Humanitarian: One character solves his food supply problem by systematically hunting down, killing, and eating multiple iterations of a scientist who had worked on the Hypercube and was subsequently trapped inside with the others. Also on his lunch-list is a female researcher whom he had initially been sent inside to find. His arms and neck are lined with the two characters' watches and ID tags, respectively, by his final scene, as a morbid sort of trophy collection. Quite a Fridge Horror moment, as he's also gone gray at the temples. Just how long, subjectively, had he been eating those people (and drinking their blood, since the Cube has no water sources) to survive? Due to all the constant stress he had to endure and the small variety of nutritional sources available to him (basically protein and not much else) it's probably as little as a couple of weeks or months, but it could have been years.
Informed Attractiveness: Julia is treated by the other characters (and herself) as a bombshell, while she's really no more attractive than any of them, or for that matter the average person.
Interrupted Suicide: Colonel Maguire tries to kill himself by hanging himself with his own belt, but is saved when the others run into him and get him down. He succeeds in killing himself through other means not much later.
Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: It will probably come off as this. In reality, a "hypercube" is the informal name of a tesseract, a spatially four-dimensional cube (which actually has nothing in common with the complex megastructure shown in this film, which is nevertheless called a hypercube).
Possibly an aversion of Viewers Are Geniuses, combined with Rule of Cool, as most people probably aren't familiar with "simple" four-dimensional objects, let alone complex five-dimensional ones.
Oh Crap: Colonel Maguire chains himself to a wall so he can be killed by one of the traps, a transparent, moving cube wall that ages all the matter in the room by decades if not hundreds of years. Seeing the effect it has on his briefcase leads him to remark "this is gonna hurt".
Food Pills: The only foodstuff the technicians seem to be provided with.
Fate Worse than Death: By the end, staying in or around the cube becomes this to Wynn. He actually tries to get himself executed by making it clear that he chooses death over the cube, but he doesn't get a choice in the matter - he already waived this right a long time ago, which he simply doesn't remember. He's lobotomized and thrown back in.
Good with Numbers: Wynn. At the end, he is lobotomized and put in the cube, suggesting that Kazan was once a Cube Technician as well, or even that Kazan actually IS Wynn, since Jax sentanced him to "Two more lifetimes", which would make him the only character to have escaped the cube more than once.
Gorn: The movie opens with a character getting sprayed with a liquid that turns out to be a fast-acting form of necrotizing faciitis. The skin of his hand peels off, and he proceeds to melt into a bloody puddle.
Idiot Savant: Creepily hinted at with Wynn as having become this at the end. He's lobotimized, thrown back in the Cube, and found by some other prisoners, mirroring Kazan's introducion. The last shot of the film settles on his tapping fingers as a computer interface is softly heard in the background...
I'm Melting: The unlucky bastard in the opening. He enters a room, and is sprayed with a substance which he thinks is water, since it is odorless and doesn't do any immediate harm. It takes a minute before his body tissues suddenly begin to dissolve into a bloody pile of bone and liquified guts.
Red Right Hand: Jax has a cybernetic implant fitted where his right eye used to be. It's never shown or explained what abilities it gives him; it's only ever used to identify him as a villain and explain his hatred for machines via a Noodle Incident.
Smart People Play Chess: Wynn is prominently shown playing chess with Dodd and beating him at every turn, to show off his advanced mental faculties.
Tomato in the Mirror: After Wynn is captured at the end, Jax reveals that Wynn is NOT an employee overseeing the cube. He's just as much a lab rat as the Cube residents, as another layer of the Cube experiment to "observe the observers". So were his colleagues. He can't even choose execution over staying in the cube, as he already waived this right long ago... he simply doesn't remember because the real operators removed this information from his mind.
The Virus: Another strain of necrotizing faciitis is injected into a character, who, in her death throes, claws at another character, which infects him with the same condition.