To say that the filmmakers of “Cube 2: Hypercube” knew what they were doing, or where they were going, would be giving them too much credit. Similar to its original, “Cube 2” is an Idea Movie: that is, it’s the movie’s premise that is of utmost importance, with story and plot secondary — if that.
Like its 1997 predecessor, “Cube 2” opens with strangers waking up individually inside a cube-shape room. One-by-one, the strangers encounter each other, introduce themselves, and seek a way out of this strange prison. At first no one seems to know why he or she has been taken, abducted from his or her normal everyday lives. (Or at least they claim not to know.) Gradually, as they make their way through the cubes, it is revealed that each and every one of them has a reason to be here, and that they know more than they are saying.
The whole idea behind the original “Cube” was not to craft any coherent story about human nature or anything similarly noble. It was, in my opinion, an attempt by the filmmakers to see how much creativity they can muster and how much they can get away with by making a movie on a modest budget. The original’s set, essentially a single cube that was re-dressed differently with colored gels to mark a different cube, gets an upgrade here. The set of “Cube 2” is definitely more expensive, and the properties of the different cubes are trickier.
Of the strangers, there’s Geraint Wyn Davies as Simon, a knife-wielding tough guy with tendencies toward violence, and Kari Matchett as the strong-willed Kate, who is essentially the film’s lead. As before, the different characters, because of their different backgrounds and personalities, clash over decisions. And unfortunately just like the original, the characters realize that working together is the only way to survive, only to have the whole thing de-evolve into a Teen Slasher movie. (This, incidentally, is the one big problem I had with the original. It doesn’t look as if the filmmakers have learned their lesson, natch.)
The original’s story, as muddled as it was to begin with (Who built the cube? For what purpose?), led one to believe that something catastrophic had occurred in the world outside the cube prison. We are never told about the state of the world, and as such the idea of escaping the cube seems not only mysterious, but also foreboding. What is waiting for our survivors out there? In the sequel, there isn’t any of that looming doom. This is done away with by showing the characters moments before their abduction. The world, as it turns out, hasn’t changed a bit. The result is that there’s no atmosphere of dread awaiting the survivors.
With a big budget, comes cheesy CGI. There are no longer any inspirational kill scenes or groovy ambushes awaiting our prisoners. Instead, we get a spinning CGI cube that mangles its victims and — get this — some sort of slow-moving crystal blocks that knock people’s heads off. (What?) Where are the laser trip wires that slice people into little chunks?
The screenplay is so in love with the film’s notion of a hypercube — cubes that defies gravity and warps time — that all we get are characters with surface personalities. As a result I could have cared less if any of them survived; they were all very irritating, especially the old lady with Alzheimer’s and the blind girl whose only line of dialogue, it seems, was to repeat, “What just happened?” over and over again. Even our lead, Kate, gets rather annoying after a while.
Not surprisingly, “Cube 2” paves the way for another sequel with an unbelievably stupid ending that involves a twist that seems to exist for the sake of having a twist. Seeing as how the original’s creativity has taken a back seat to glossy sets and CGI, I have little faith that the third in the franchise will be much better. If anything, it might get dumber. Whereas the original offered you (the viewer) the opportunity to try to figure out the puzzle along with its characters, there isn’t any of that here. The characters in “Cube 2” talks on and on about the theory of hypercube and such, but no one ever solves any puzzles. As a result, you’re just sitting there listening to them talk about hypercubes and whatnot, but you’re not involved.
The producers must surely realized by now that simply repeating the formula of the first was a bad idea. How many sequels can you make where people wake up in a cube (which will no doubt get even more super-duper with each sequel), bicker, work together, bicker some more, then turn on each other — all capped off with an ambiguous ending that answers nothing because it makes absolutely no sense to anyone, even the filmmakers who probably thought it up at the last minute.
An Idea Movie is fine, people. But maybe it’s time to add a real story and a real purpose to back up that idea, eh?
Andrzej Sekula (director) / Sean Hood, Ernie Barbarash, Lauren McLaughlin (screenplay)
CAST: Geraint Wyn Davies …. Simon Grady
Kari Matchett …. Kate Filmore
Neil Crone …. Jerry Whitehall
Matthew Ferguson …. Max Reisler
Barbara Gordon …. Mrs. Paley