Cube 2: Hypercube
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Cube 2: Hypercube

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When a film reaches the status of ‘cult favorite’ you can pretty much bet that there will be a sequel. Hopefully, some of the same cast and crew form the original can be induced into the sequel. With Cube 2: Hypercube, this was sadly not the case. As with the original we find a group of seemingly unconnected strangers awaken in a bare cubical room of about 14’. With no apparent way out they know they have to find an exit somehow. While the original Cube had a mathematical resolution for one that is smart enough to see it, hypercube is based on the every changing, complex world of quantum physics. Here there are no real constants for the hapless strangers trapped; time, alternate realities and even gravity are subject to changes and alterations that defy logic and reason. The plot does present a nice cross section of humanity. There is Kate the physiologist (Kari Matchett) a normally confident young woman who finds she has to fight the others for some semblance of reason and order. Simon is the security investigator (Geraint Wyn Davies), violent and on the verge of being truly evil. Sasha (Grace Lynn Kung), a young blind girl, Jerry (Neil Crone) a subcontractor who designed the doorways between rooms, Barbara Gordon as Mrs. Paly, a senile woman and Matthew Ferguson as the young man Max. There are a couple of others that come and go during the film but these are the core of the cast charged with maintaining the tension of the plot. Unfortunately the formula that made the first Cube so original was abandoned here. In the first the story was mostly self contained, it was the group against the mathematics that would lead them to freedom. Here so many ancillary plot lines are brought in, military conspiracy, computer hackers, theoretical physics etc, that the purity of the original is completely lost here. Another disappointing plot twist that is overused here is no one is who they really seem and almost everyone was related to the cube and each other. This gave a very forced and contrived feeling to the personal interactions of the characters. Another aspect of simplicity lost is in the first film the people are stripped of their own belongings, dressed in prison like uniforms and are known only by a single name (always one taken from a famous prison). Here, each has their own clothing, a few personal belongings and identities that were too explained. With the first less was more, here more is less.

Now that I’ve told you all the things I didn’t like about the plot I do have to admit I enjoyed the cast. Here is a group of actors that vary greatly in experience, some long time television regulars, others relative new comers, but all were able to breathe whatever life was possible into this script. The most recognizable member of this ensemble cast is Geraint Wyn Davies. Best know for his work as the reluctant vampire Nick in Forever Knight he rarely disappoints in any role he takes on. He can play good and evil, often in the same story. He has a commanding presence in this film and serves to drive the tension beyond the situation an on to the personal interactions. Kari Matchett is a real gem of an actress. She has a quiet persona that carries this film as far as possible. Her presentation of Kate is that of a strong, reasonable professional woman tossed into a very unreasonable situation with equally unreasonable people. Barbara Gordon’s portrayal of the senile Mrs. Paly was a bit too much over the top. It was a cartoon of a person with senile dementia and failed to really fit into the serious tone the work was trying for.

Andrzej Sekula is another in a growing list of cinematographers turned director. His resume as a cinematographer is actually very impressive. He worked on Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Four Rooms. Cube 2 is his second major work sitting in the director’s chair. In some ways he does suffer from the trap many former cinematographers have, the reliance on camera work to cover the lack of plot. At least here he provides a visually stunning work. I was greatly impressed by the imagination employed here. There are split screens, unusual camera angles and making the most of the lighting limitations imposed by the story line. The use of the sound field was also impressive, the sounds coming from all speakers, whipping around the room in a disorienting fashion. Even if I couldn’t become committed to the story at least I could enjoy the presentation. I personally look forward to watching the career of this budding director unfold.

The DVD was almost better than the film deserves. I have seen the presentation of this film on the Sci-Fi channel and have to admit this was far better. For one thing the editing imposed by the standards and practices area of the channel was removed. This does lead to a bit more adult language, violence and a brief bit of nudity. The Anamorphic 1.85:1 video was exceptionally clear. The cross over to the second layer was a bit more noticeable than other discs but acceptable. The color palette was well balanced, the lighting excellent and the blacks typically free of defect. The audio was in Dolby 5.1 and made the disc. As [previously noted the director employed some interesting tricks of the sound field to disorient the viewer and the audio mastering here was impeccable. I would have liked a director’s commentary but the one provided featured the producer and editor. While this did give a novel viewpoint of making the film it was little more than we did this and then we did that. There is also a featurette on the special effects employed, some deleted scenes, mostly just extra footage to existing scenes and some green scene pre-production work. Add to that a little interview with the director and a storyboard and you have a decent presentation. In all if you have the original Cube you will most likely want this just to see how the story progressed. The two would make a nice double feature night for the hard core fan. A good tale but one lost in quantum irregularities.

Posted 4/18/03

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