December 20, 2007

Mini-review: "Cube 2: Hypercube"

(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. Click here for the full list.)

Cube 2: Hypercube

Cube 2: Hypercube (movie; 2003)
Written by Sean Hood
Directed by Andrzej Sekula

Long-time readers will remember that one of the first movie reviews I ever did here was of the 1997 Canadian low-budget sleeper hit Cube, and how the movie can actually be classified in a number of different ways: psychological thriller, science-fiction, offbeat horror and more. Essentially the story of six random people who all wake up one day on the inside of an apparently endless series of featureless cubes (which add up mathematically into one giant cube they're all inside), what made the original movie so creepy and such a hit was the profound lack of expository information -- not once is it ever explained what the cube is or why these people are there, instead focusing on the ways that the people slowly go crazy and turn on each other in such a Sartresque environment. Add the fact that almost no special effects are needed, and that the crew essentially created one set and then lit and shot it in a variety of smart ways, and you suddenly have an independent production with almost a student-level budget that can realistically compete quality-wise with a Hollywood actioner made for a hundred million, one of the big reasons the original movie got all the attention it did.

And wow, it's astounding how quickly the people behind its sequel, 2003's Hypercube, get everything completely 180-degrees wrong from the original, as far as what made the first film so special and unique to begin with; but then again, it was a completely new crew of mostly guns-for-hire behind the sequel, with the producers basically purchasing the rights to the name for an insane amount of money from the original team, in the hopes of pooping out a quickie direct-to-video franchise ala Highlander (or so the story goes). It's essentially an exact rehash of the first movie's storyline, all the way down to some of the same character archetypes; but this time with everything ramped up a couple of notches, Mountain Dew Extreme Sports style, 'cause who needs psychological ennui when you got cool-looking crap floating all in the air and cutting people up and sh-t! Do the Dew! DO THE DEW!!!

The worst problem, though, is that Hypercube explains the details of its central mystery in the exact way the original purposely tried to avoid; it tells you exactly why these particular people are inside the cube, what exactly the cube is, and who exactly is behind the cube, which as is sadly the case with most low-budget Canadian science-fiction thrillers turns out to be laughably stupid and visually cheap when finally revealed. This is what was so brilliant about the original, is that the movie's creators naturally understood the limitations up against them, and made a film that took advantage of those limitations; the makers of Hypercube, unfortunately, completely misunderstand their limitations, and in fact keep trying to most emphasize the exact elements they should be trying to downplay (like the low-budget computer-generated special effects, for one good example, which even four years later look ridiculously dated). What a waste of a lot of good will the original Cube first endeared among fanboys; I'm not even going to bother with the third film in this series, frankly, a supposed prequel called Cube Zero.

Out of 10: 3.9

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:17 AM, December 20, 2007. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |