In fact, that's what I thought as the Cube 2: Hypercube began. A group of strangers awaken in a new Cube with little memory of how they got there. Slowly they come together and slowly they realize that many of these rooms are loaded with traps, waiting to spring and kill them one at a time. Slowly, inevitably, they turn on each other. The character archetypes are even remarkably similar to the first film's. You've got the Cute Techie Chick, the Geek, the No-Nonsense professional woman, the flake, the nice guy, the Psycho and the vivacious hottie. Hell, there's even that lone, one-shoe stranger who sets up the theme, just like in the first film.
Lame? Perhaps. However, in spite of the undeniable echoes of the first film, Hypercube is hardly the same movie. Virtually everything is amplified to a new power, yet very little feels as if it's done to excess (even 1997's Cube bordered on Hellraiser gore in places).
Geraint Wyn Davies' paranoid and violent Simon Grady is the first to find someone in the form of Kari Matchett's tough and sexy Kate Filmore. Kate, in turn, finds a lovely young blind girl named Sasha (Grace Lynn Kung) and the special guest victims start trickling in from affable Jerry (Neil Crone) to senile Mrs. Paley (Barbara Gordon, no, not Batgirl) to the geek-chic Max (Matthew Ferguson) to the beautiful (and briefly nude) Julia (Lindsey Connell). Each uses their ingenuity to contribute to the mystery of each room and to the solution of how to get out, and each contribution leads to a revelation that each of them is inexorably linked to the truth behind the Cube.
This Cube departs from the original theme in more than just appearances. It isn't long before they discover that they've been in the same cells more than once... but each time they return the rooms are different in subtle or drastic ways. Most notably, either something new has happened, or something old hasn't happened yet. Furthermore, the traps have evolved far beyond the practical and plausible kill-tricks and into the surreal and bizarre Fourth Dimension trickery of the realm of the Great Gazoo and Q.
Soon the "Reality" of this new, surreal "Hypercube" comes into chilling focus and the new games begin. The way these dominoes fall is what truly makes Hypercube enthralling. It's a slow revelation (like the first) that adds layer upon layer of mythos to the already challenging Cube saga. At times it's hard not to wonder if a little too much is revealed. For example, the mystery of referring to the government as "The Government" in this Canadian Sci-Fi/ Horror experiment is made sharper by showing clearly that we're most certainly talking about the United States Government. To be sure, this is still an entrancing trilogy (ending or beginning, depending on how you look at it, with 2004's Cube 0), but the bleakness and dystopian paranoid social commentary is pretty heavy and hard to swallow without help.
Cube 2 has a much more hyper budget than Cube did, and that shows in the set design and the special effects. Again, the "60 million rooms" of the Hypercube are represented by just one, but you'd be hard pressed to really find seams in the execution of this effect. Further, director Andrzej Sekula is given a good cast to work with and he manages to avoid some of the melodramatic pitfalls that marred the original Cube. Story writer Sean Hood is to be praised for his ability to both keep Cube 2 true to the original, yet still come up with some amazing new angles surrounding the Tesseract nature of the Hypercube itself. Co-screenwriters Lauren McLaughlin and Ernie Barbarash (who also produced) deserve a heaping spoonful of the credit as well. There are also some great lines to be enjoyed here.
Still, many have criticized Hypercube as being practically the same movie as Cube. I suppose the question would be where one could go beyond Cube without revealing far too much or fragmenting the mythology created in the first movie. However, breaking the confinements of the first, Hypercube manages to be an expansive thriller that feels at once huge, claustrophobicc, mathematical and magical. Make your own decision on this film's originality, but if you're a fan of the first, give the second a chance... the third, (or Zeroeth) of the trilogy takes a very different (yet still effective) approach. Enjoy all three, but for my money, Hypercube is just a hair above the standard Rubik Rubric.
Four Stars out of Five for Cube 2: Hypercube. It's a larger interpretation of an already fantastic concept, pushing the boundaries of reality and bringing us to some great moments and beautiful cinematography (the weightless sex scene is fascinating for much more than just the nudity). Make no mistake, though, Hypercube is still a very horrific and bloody movie with some disturbing and bleak subject matter. It's not for the faint of heart, the uninitiated or the claustrophobicc. But for those who like a little surprise and uniqueness in their puzzle box, the Cube Trilogy is far beyond square. See you in the next six sided reel.
Twice the Sugar, Twice the Caffeine
Twice the Hypercube...
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CUBE 2: HYPERCUBE... reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
Who also feels trapped in a Monstrous Cube
And watched over my evil madmen...
But that's what pays the bills!
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