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Dr Slag, PhD. & Moritz gives us their take on HYPERCUBE - the sequel to CUBE!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with a review of CUBE2: HYPERCUBE from its world premiere in Munich yesterday! And guess what? It doesn't seem to suck! How nice would that be? I'm a fan of the original CUBE quite a bit - Loved being quoted on the British Quad alongside David Cronenberg as praising CUBE! Pretty sweet. As much as I liked the original, I loathed the concept of a 4th Dimensional CUBE... It just sounded 'tarded. However, from the sound of the review, this looks to possibly be pretty darn cool. Check it out, no spoilers below...

Hello,

I've never sent you anything before, but I thought you could be interested in this review.

I just came back home from the world première of CUBE?: HYPERCUBE in Munich. I have to say that I didn't have huge expectations - I thought the first film was brilliant, a highly original movie with a nod to Borges' "Library of Babel" story, minimalistic and highly effective. While I was very curious how they would follow up a movie like this, sequels rarely are as creative as the films which preceed them - some even manage to ruin what was before, as did HIGHLANDER 2 with its "explanation" that the immortals were actually aliens from another planet.

But every once in a while, a sequel comes along which is actually worth seeing. HYPERCUBE is one of them. It takes the original idea of the first movie - people stuck in a maze consisting of empty rooms, each one featuring six doors leading to a similar room - but is otherwise completely unrelated. The beginning of the film is familiar territory, but it quickly moves in a completely different direction. Whereas the first movie presented us with a cube that could be real, the second one becomes surreal and - WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD - has a virtual cube where, basically, everything is possible.

Now, I'm not a mathematician, but the whole idea of a four- dimensional cube is a mindbender (although I believe that hypercubes actually exist as theoretical constructs). In CUBE 2, different rooms have different timelines, a different gravity or even a different reality. You can meet yourself, or you can move horizontally into another room and suddenly fall downwards since the gravity in the other room is different. You might see things that will happen, or could happen, or have already happened. Now, I'm trying not to give away too much here - but the film becomes more and more surreal as it goes along, and it finds a certain humor in its bizarre premise - for example, when one character keeps killing another one whom he meets over and over again.

There are certain parellels to the first movie - the mix of characters is similar, with a confused old lady replacing the disturbed young man from the first film. There's a latent psycho, a person trying to reason, a cynic - the characters seem familiar. Again, you have various hints at what the cube might be, and again, the people who are trapped in the maze have some connection to their prison. While the first film had an open ending, the second one is more definitive - although I found the ending quite frustrating.

Director Andrzej Sekula (who worked as a cinematographer on AMERICAN PSYCHO and PULP FICTION) does a great job here - he has a nice way of teasing the audience by withholding visual information: a character sees something, reacts to it, but we can't see it right away. There are some nice visual effects, I particularly liked the camera angles when moving into different rooms which had different a gravitational characteristic: the camera stays the way we used to see the first room, so that in the next room everything seems to be upside-down or turned 90° to the left. It nicely represents the feeling of dislocation the characters must experience. Only after a while, he spins the camera, just as the characters get used to the altered gravity.

The cast consists mainly of unknown actors - at least I have never heard of any of them, even though, as the IMDB tells me, most of them have appeared in various other movies and TV series before. They're all convincing, and the fact that they're not exactly famous actually helps to create the illusion that these are really normal, everyday people who suddenly find themselves trapped in this cube.

What more can I say? As you will have noticed already, I hugely enjoyed HYPERCUBE - while its premise isn't as original and brilliant as the first movie's basic idea (naturally), it goes into a completely different direction and keeps throwing new ideas and bizarre situations at us to keep our heads spinning. It's very well done, repeating the minimalistic feel of CUBE. The only criticism I could aim at it is that once you figured out that, in this cube, anything goes and nothing really matters, you sort of stop caring about the individual characters. Still, the movie quickly makes up for that by increasing its pace; things begin to become so abstract and bizarre that you wonder what they will come up with next.

I hope you'll find this interesting & useful.

you can call me Dr. Slag, PhD.

And now here's Moritz

Hi Harry,

First of all: You are doing a great job with your site! All geeks in the world should be thankful....

My name is Moritz Eggert (no need for a pseudonym here), and I live in Munich, Germany, home of the original Fantasy Film Fest. Just a few minutes ago I and some 200 fellow geeks were the very first people seeing an official copy of "Hypercube", the sequel to "Cube", one of my most loved films (the date of today's premiere was 7/31/0:30 a.m.). At least that was what we were told by the organizers - apparently the copy was flewn over from Toronto fresh from the printers (and there were 2 failed attempts to do so - it seems the film was not ready the first time, the second time they sent the wrong film - this is why the originally announced premiere 4 days ago didn't happen).

The copy we saw just now seemed to be the final version - sound, picture and editing were pristine - but doubts remain: for example the program book of the festival shows a picture of a character clearly taken from the film....and he doesn't appear in it!

Hm, not the first time they cut somebody out AFTER releasing the pictures....

About the film...well, I try to be short, it is really late right now (but I wanted to be first...).

Like "Blair Witch", the original "Cube" is in itself a pretty perfect film which doesn't really scream for a sequel. And like "Blair Witch 2" "Hypercube" really tries to be different...and fails to impress in the end. Like "Blair Witch 2" "Hypercube" is not really bad - in fact there are many good ideas in it, there is excitement, the timing is good....it is just not as good as "Cube", which is, for a sequel, simply not good enough.

It says a lot that the original director of "Cube" was not involved in this project - instead we have Andrzej Sekula, apparently also a newcomer. I will try to describe the film without giving away too much....

"Hypercube" starts out very differently from the first film. First of all we see the bodies of the people later to be trapped in the cube - they are on stretchers, and wrapped up in plastic bags. There is also some high-tech computer generated graphics mumbo jumbo and some effective and haunting music (phased and echoed - which makes sense after seeing the film. The sound design is really fantastic, by the way!). We also see some kind of flashback, a young woman working at a computer, then turning around....blackness...

Sekula tries here, and also later in the film - to make "hypercube" different by showing snippets of the "life before the cube", which is at first fascinating, but takes away the allegorical dimension of the first film. We now actually see the people in the moments before they are abducted. The first scene is actually a variation of the first film, a girl wakes up (the girl from the flashback scene), wanders around a little, she opens a hatch, and wham...she's gone. Not spectacularly diced and killed like the poor guy in "cube" but simply...gone.

Ok, ok, she appears again later...in a really shocking "twist" scene...

The film then follows the different characters waking up in different rooms. The stereotypes are there again: there is - like in the first film, an agressive bully type , a caring, sympathetic blonde, a young carefree-type, an older sure-of-himself-type, a mentally challenged (here confused) type etc. A new twist comes in the person of a sexy lawyer (in red party dress!) and a blind girl.

The design of the cube is like a less interesting version of the first film: the rooms are white and pretty bland. The hatches on all 6 sides work similarly to the first film, but automatically, by touch. There are also, at least at the beginning, no traps. Instead our heroes very soon find out that this cube is really a "hypercube" - it is like a tesseract, a 4-dimensional object. This is discovered in a succession of very neat and clever scenes - particularly in one very shocking one which I won't give away- and is actually pretty mind-boggling. There are time-paradoxes, parallel universes, gravity shifts...all in all a worthy successor to the first cube, I'd say.

The story itself unfolds pretty much like in the first film, but with some surprising twists - not all is like it seems! Of course everybody has a reason why s/he is in the cube, but this time it is pretty straightforward. Whereas it came as a real shock in the first film to find out that one of the prisoners was actually the architect, this time around pretty much everybody of the bunch was involved in the construction of the cube one way or another...

There is some digital SFX - not outstanding, but ok. The acting seems competent, but not really convincing, especially in the case of "Larry" (.."the laffer"?), who is simply very, very annoying.

It all comes to a conclusion which actually take us outside the cube and shows us ...other people! But don't worry - the ending does try it's best to confuse the hell out of everybody. Whereas the first film's ending was simply poetic, open and beautiful, this one seems like the final season of the "X-Files" : posing more questions than answering them...

As you can tell my feelings are very mixed about this one. It is not a stinker - you can tell that a lot of creative effort went into this one, and a surprising amount of ambition for a sequel as well.

But basically it is - after all - a sequel to "Cube" - a film which should definitely not have a sequel. "Cube" was a SF/Twilight Zone inspired variant of "huit clos" by Sartre, and like "huit clos" it cannot really have a sequel, as there are only two options: continue/explain the story of the first film (bad!) or repeat the situation of the first film with some new twists (also bad!). "Hypercube" sort of tries both at the same time, and ends in a kind of limbo: it won't bore you, but it want excite you as much as the first film (actually the ending might piss some people off badly...).

Simply put: "Cube" was weird, but deeply logical and philosophical, like a paradox that is solved in the end, for the solution's sake only. "Hypercube" is simply....weird. That's all.

But the strange thing is: I would like to see it again, even though it was unsatisfactory. At least to have a clue who the hell "Darcy" is (you will know what I mean after seeing it...).

Best regards from

Moritz

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