Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)
AKA Cube²: Hypercube
Starring Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn Davies, Grace Lynn Kung, Matthew Ferguson, Neil Crone, Barbara Gordon, Lindsey Connell, Greer Kent, Bruce Gray
Directed by Andrzej Sekula
Expectations: Super low. It’s gonna be dumb.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
I had many issues with the first Cube, but the overall experience was an enjoyable one because it felt like the movie was building towards something. Even though Cube 2 contains a fair amount of revelations about the cube and its purpose, it is never — ever — building towards anything. I think it’s a fair assumption to go into Cube 2: Hypercube expecting something dumber than the original Cube, but the level of inane bullshit here is out of control.
Cube 2: Hypercube takes many of the things that defined the original film and throws them out the cube door (and presumably into some other cube where a different, hypothetical Cube movie was being made… I wish I has seen that one.). Remember the iconic cube itself that inspired instant love from me and radiated goodwill right up until the end of the film? Here it’s redesigned to be bland, boring and without character. The colored rooms that gave Cube much of its texture and visuals? Gone as well, as every room in this cube is the starkest of whites. Not only does this make for a visually boring movie, it makes for one that runs together. Going from one room to the next holds no weight. I understand why the rooms are all white now from a story standpoint, but that doesn’t make them any less boring. This cube also looks like a set, and the fact that the rooms don’t change colors only helps to solidify the thought that instead of Cube 2: Hypercube, I’m watching Cube 2: On Broadway, or perhaps as my girlfriend suggested, Cube 2: On Ice.
Cube 2 also takes annoying characters to new heights, making me actively wish multiple times that someone — anyone (but especially that senile old lady!) — would die. There’s not a trap death for a good hour or so into the movie, and that is far, far too long in a movie populated solely by shitty, annoying characters. They’re all in their street clothes this time around too, removing even more of the sci-fi elements to reduce Cube 2: On Broadway to Cube 2: On Broadway – The Street Clothes Rehearsal. But back to the traps, which in this movie are really a stretch to even call traps. They’re more “mental landmines,” fucking with everyone’s head to make them question their fellow cube-ites and their surroundings. While this does lead to a few interesting developments late in the film, it robs me of gnarly, slicing wires, and I love gnarly, slicing wires.
On top of that, this is 2002 and all the traps are ugly CG. I’ll admit that it kind of fits the look of this movie to have them be kind of shitty looking, but then we see the first legitimate death and it looks fucking horrible. And I don’t say this simply because I’m writing this years after its release; it just looks bad, and I’m sure I would’ve actually hated the FX more if I had seen the film back then. I’ve had the last 10–15 years to slowly warm up to accepting the inevitability of computer FX, and I’m much more lenient now than I used to be. But even putting aside the CG aspects to the traps, the kills themselves aren’t anything notable. Crystalline ice pillars are growing out of one side of the cube, and all you can come up with is that one of them pushes/slices off a character’s head so cleanly that it looks like maybe the FX artist just did a Ctrl+X after selecting his head? I guess it cauterizes too because there’s no blood spray either. Hmm…
Which brings me to another issue: why does almost every “trap” in this cube involve something slowly moving from one side of the cube to the other? Even more distressing: why is this an issue for the characters? Instead of calmly packing up their shit and moving on to the next cube where there isn’t impending death and destruction, they sit around and look at it asking, “What’s that?,” “What’s it doing?,” and “What should we do?” GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE ROOM, DUMBASSES! C’mon! How hard is it to figure that out? In the first film they had to deduce if each room was trapped, first by physical means, and later by mathematical means. Here the room suddenly becomes dangerous and the peril comes from the complete inaction of the characters. WTF.
Also, and this one goes out to any budding screenwriters, there’s only so many times you can use the “Y’know what, I worked on this cube” reveal. While some of this is intriguing and allows your understanding of the project to grow, most of it is lazy writing meant to give a character information that they’d never be able to figure out on their own. And it happens probably four or five times here. Obviously, this isn’t a story-heavy movie, but a little imagination would be nice.
If that’s not enough for you, the camerawork is ugly and always about a foot closer to whatever its filming than I’d like it to be. Director Andrzej Sekula also seems infatuated with shooting things with the camera at a complete 90 degree tilt, so everything is horizontal when it should be vertical. There’s a reason you don’t see this very often in movies, and the reason is that it’s ugly. There’s also some split-screen used without purpose (other than to be flashy). Ugh. Just ugh.
Cube 2: Hypercube is a huge step down from the pretty good original in every imaginable way. Some of the ideas themselves are good, but their execution leaves a lot to be desired. I do have to give them credit for not simply remaking the first film, though, and this does feel like time has passed and the people behind the scenes have developed “Cube 2.0” in the in-between years. The final 10–15 minutes are much stronger than the rest of the film, but it ends on a bleak, underwhelming note. I don’t recommend it, but you might like it better than me if your tolerance for certain aspects of it are higher.
Suddenly I understand why the third and final film in the Cube series is a prequel. Hopefully they bring back some of that industrial charm of the original cube.
Cube 2: Hypercube was a Reader’s Choice selection from Rodney of Fernby Films.