Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Cube Trilogy

I’ve always been curious about the movie Cube (1997). My RP group designed some events around it, it’s noted as being an impressive B cult film, and pretty much everyone I know that’s seen it has enjoyed it.

As with most cinematic black holes, though, once you go a certain amount of time without watching something it gets more difficult to find the time. New movies come out, work takes over, family life expands, and movies that people swear you should have seen forever ago just slip through the cracks.

The other day, my little one decided she was going to have a sleepy day and I decided it gave me enough time to watch the entire Cube trilogy. So, I did. I watched all three movies, back-to-back. First Cube, then Cube²: Hypercube (2002), and finally, Cubeº: Cube Zero (2004).

Let me start with the series as a whole.

A lot of questions don’t really get answered. In a trilogy like this, I would expect the final film – since it’s a prequel – to offer some kind of closure on why things are happening. You get a non-committal ‘who’ but no real ‘why’. That disappointed me. They did manage to bring things around so that the story made some manner of sense, but the fact that I got no real closure, kind of bothered me.

As for the individual movies, that was a bit more complicated.

I think Cube (the first one), is a brilliant example of a film that ‘doesn’t hold up’. You hear people use that saying a lot, but you really only see examples of it here and there.

For the most part, if you don’t mind ignoring technological changes, there are very few reasons for a movie to not hold up. Not taking CGI, or cinematography in general, into account, I believe the story itself doesn’t hold up. It’s a little boring and shallow – just a basic torture porn, only it doesn’t go as far as a lot of the other movies out there.

The thing is, I would put money on the belief that I would have loved Cube if I saw it when it first came out. It was B quality, but in a good way. It also would have been the first I’d seen of that kind of story and I would have been enthralled. Instead, the first film I saw with that same basic story was Saw (2004). I believe I still would have liked Saw if I’d seen Cube first… but going the other way around makes it feel like I have to compare the two, and I just prefer Saw.

The second movie, Cube²: Hypercube had a different problem. It took all the CGI it could and utilized it to make something ridiculously over worked that cheapened the plot. I was so distracted by the quantum bullshit that I forgot to care about the characters at all.

I didn’t mind the first movie, but the second one pushed my buttons and kind of annoyed me. The ending made it worth a watch, but just barely.

The third film was, by far, my favorite of the three. Cubeº: Cube Zero made me think back to Cabin in the Woods (2012) and I had to admit that I saw how the entire Cube series could very well have influenced the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard creation. Instantly that endeared the third film to me because I LOVED Cabin in the Woods.

What the third film did right was to make me empathize with the antagonist – or at least a sub-set of the antagonists. It also brought more of the Cube world into focus by stepping slightly outside the cube.

With the way the third film circled around to set up the first, I found myself greatly appreciating that they’d made it a prequel. However, I think they could have gone further and explained more to the audience.

If I wasn’t left wanting, I’d be more likely to consider myself a member of the Cube cult. Unfortunately, watching the trilogy didn’t quite scratch the itch it caused.

It’s not a bad series, but not one I’m likely to be foaming at the mouth to watch again.

Monday, June 11, 2018

F the Prom (2017)

Number Rolled: 58
Movie Name/Year: F the Prom (2017)
Tagline: None
Genre: Comedy
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Big Block Media Holdings, Fine Brothers Entertainment
Producer: Jamie Bendell, Seth Fass, Benny Fine, Rafi Fine, Scott Prisand, Kenny Solomon, Michael Speyer, Dylan Vox
Director: Benny Fine
Writer: Benny Fine, Rafi Fine, Molly Prather
Actors: Danielle Campbell, Joel Courtney, Cameron Palatas, Aidan Alexander, Michael Chey, Brendan Calton, Nicholle Tom, Marnie Alexenburg, Adan Allende, Eric Beckerman, Luke Bilyk, Jill Cimorelli, Meg DeLacy, Mike gray, Richard Karn, Cheri Oteri, Madelaine Petsch, Lilly Singh, Ian Ziering

Blurb from Netflix: Maddy and Cole were inseparable before high school. Then she got popular; he didn’t. But after Maddy is betrayed, she and Cole reunite -- to ruin prom.

Selina’s Point of View:
It’s really easy to write this film off about ten minutes in.

I watched this movie with my husband and the moment Ian Ziering (Sharknado, Lavalantula, Sproutnado: Ocean Weather Report) walked on screen, he said, “Alright, if I see one shark, I’m out of here. I’m serious. One Finn reference…”

Now, you can’t really blame him – or anyone – for having that reaction. Hell, even I was like, “oooh, it’s THAT kind of movie.”

Ziering isn’t exactly known for starring in high quality stuff at the moment.

It didn’t help that the acting and script, off the bat, was so over-the-top exaggerated that it was super simple to sit back and roll my eyes. And that’s coming from me, a self-proclaimed lover of all things B.

The thing is that writing off F the Prom immediately was a bit of a mistake. That over-acting bullshit seemed to be purposely done to represent how we all remember our high school years a little differently. For those who enjoyed it, it’s remembered better than it was… and for those who didn’t, it’s remembered as a step above (or below) hell. I think the creators of this film were trying to exploit that in order to make their message heard.

And, yeah, there was a hell of a message.

Although the storyline, and feel, is reminiscent of pretty much every high school movie from Pretty in Pink (1986) to Angus (1995) to Mean Girls (2004)… the message seems to be a little different. It’s not much different, it’s still urging kids to not single people out because of differences; however, it takes a more modern stance. It looks at the way schools are today and that inevitable speech at the end? It’s worth listening to.

Would I call it a masterpiece? No. I think a lot of it gets lost in translation. Never-the-less, I did wind up enjoying it.

Cat’s Point of View:
I honestly am not quite sure what to think of this movie.

Part of that may be due to the fact that I can’t quite tell if this film was supposed to be a spoof or if it was actually taking itself seriously as a ‘teen movie.’ As much as the characters rolled their eyes about high school and prom being cliché – the whole production was just a chain of one after another. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a helping of cliché now and again. I don’t think it made the movie BAD, per se – it just didn’t feel entirely fresh. It was more like F* the Prom took most of the existing teen movies out there and smushed them together with a modern social media presence spin.

I thought the small handful of reference Easter eggs were amusing. I don’t think there were quite enough to tug on my heartstrings with nostalgia, however.

I relate all too well with the students that didn’t fit in – that was completely the world I lived in while I was in middle school and junior high. High school was a roller-coaster but I didn’t have the same issues – but I understand all too well the layers of hell that kids often have to endure.

The film illustrated well the silly reasons why some kids just end up on the outskirts of the teen social scene, and the idea of ‘harmless’ revenge is somewhat satisfying. Unfortunately, I think that it just wasn’t over-the-top enough to be an effective spoof – and if it wasn’t supposed to be one, some parts of the movie were just a bit too loopy.

The casting here was pretty great, though. I can’t even begin to tell you how geeking out I was when I recognized Richard Karn (Ctrl, A Dog for Christmas, The Horse Dancer) and Cheri Oteri (The Ant Bully, Bad Parents, Grown Ups 2) as Maddie’s parents. I did have a giggle that Ian Ziering (Biker Mice from Mars, That's My Boy, Lavalantula) was Cole’s father.

My reaction may entirely be a generational thing, and current-day teens might get a lot more out of it than it might seem. All in all, the movie was fine – and even generally funny and moving. While it’s not something I would generally shout from the rooftops about, the message is one that I will always champion. I would recommend this film for the positive anti-bullying message, alone. 

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 31%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer: