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Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

by on 2012/11/13

“If this is someone’s game, it isn’t a fair one.”

* *

I wanted to like the original Cube a lot more than I did.

A lot.

But I didn’t. It felt like a half-hour Twilight Zone concept, stretched to fill an hour-long Outer Limits time slot. And then padded to feature length with swearing and violence.

Its sequel, subtitled Hypercube, is similar in premise, though not necessarily related directly to it. A small group of apparently unrelated strangers — a blind girl, colonel, doddering senior, engineer, game boy, lawyer, office drone, physicist, psycho, and therapist — find themselves trapped in a labyrinth of virtually identical rooms . . . or, to be precise, identical virtual rooms.

Oh, how will they ever get out, always assuming they can or they do?

The doddering senior, probably having read her share of Madeleine L’Engle, determines they are inside a tesseract, a cuboid form extended in a fourth dimension. This plot conceit allows for anything the filmmakers want to happen: rooms changing shape, opacity, gravity, and variable time-streams.

Imagine the quantum collision of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s holodeck, a parallel reality narrative, and some time looping thrown in for good measure. Dear lord I enjoy each one of these things; to combine them is toying with sin. It goes beyond chocolate and peanut butter. There’s cream cheese mixed in with it too.

Unfortunately, it gets the proportions wrong, to its detriment. (Not enough chocolate leaves you with peanut cheese, which is awful when you have nothing to wash it down.) When questions arise, they are answered with more questions, and not significant answers. The movie becomes weird for weirdness’ sake, arbitrary, inconsistent, and illogical, more frustrating than thought-provoking.

Past the squandered promise, other commonalities between the first and second Cubes are uneven actors, characters, and production.

Perhaps the cast members are pitching themselves at a B-picture level on purpose. I’d grant them the benefit of the doubt, but the roles they portray are nearly all unlikable, multiple flavours of insane, panicky, or otherwise unrelatable.

Production-wise, all I can think is the crew also did their best, with obvious effort in cinematography and editing, if not in visual effects. The CG images might have been convincing in their day, but they stand out now as distracting eyesores, reminding me of Dragonlance and The Frighteners.

I felt strange after I finished watching, a profound disappointment, but not in the sense I expected Hypercube to be better. Instead I thought it flirted with some fascinating concepts. Who wouldn’t love exploring quantum mechanics in an entertaining framework? Certainly few who would pick up this video.

What could have been a five-star affair fizzled like amateur theatre or a college-level performance art project. Shame on me, I guess, for being fooled twice. I shouldn’t have been surprised. If a simpler, more focused original didn’t do the trick for me, then how could such sprawling ambition have hoped to succeed? The bigger budget just led to a bigger mess. To quote from one of the characters, “The whole thing implodes. It’s only a matter of time.”

* *

Rated R

94 minutes

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