The original Cube (1997) introduced us to a whole new form of antagonist in the guise of an ever shifting, booby-trapped prison that seemingly ran itself, with no explanation as to who was behind it or why it existed at all. The premise was certainly an intrigueing one that seemed prime for deeper exploration, but how does one make a sequel to a film that is essentially about a big maze? Simple: Make a bigger one!
Cube 2: Hypercube introduces us to a new form of "cube" prison, in which the laws of physics are freely broken, gravity shifts from room to room, time is meaningless, and lighting is really, really bright. We're also introduced to a new group of "cubies", including Kate (Matchett), a nurse from Maine; Simon (Wyn Davies), a psychotic detective; Jerry (Crone), an engineer, and Sasha (Kung), a blind girl who may be this groups only chance for survival. As the prisoners search for a way out, the prison becomes increasingly volatile, using it's multi-dimensional bag of tricks and traps to break minds and spirits until only one is left standing.
I had a good time with Hypercube. It's not nearly as fresh or innovative as the original Cube, but it's still a lot of fun and infinitely better than most direct-to-video sequels. However, I did have some problems with the film, and most of those were with the cube itself.
The original film's prison was dark, atmospheric, and somewhat gothic looking. It had an organic quality to it that was enhanced by the colourful lighting and it was just an impressive piece of set design. The Hypercube, however, is an endless maze of bland, bright white rooms, with no detail whatsoever. It looks a bit like something out of those early seventies sci-fi flicks in which the future is depicted as spartan and colourless, and, after a fashion, it get's quite boring to look at. I was also a big fan of the original cube's real-world style traps, like razor wire fences and spraying acid. The Hypercube's traps are all non-descript CGI sequences featuring things like flying paralellograms and shredding squares of anti-matter. The effects are decent, but, like the rooms, they are colourless and dull. I can understand how director Sekula wouldn't want to go back to the original cube and make the same movie over again, but the Hypercube lacks the personality of the first cube, and makes for a much less interesting "villain".
The DVD from Lion's Gate is a packed affair, featuring a commentary by Sekula, as well as a very in-depth behind the scenes documentary that focuses mainly on the special effects and title sequence, but is interesting nonetheless. There are also a few deleted scenes, trailers, storyboard and stills galleries and at least one easter egg for you all to go searching for. There's an abundance of extra goodies here that will keep you entertained long after the film is over.
As a sequel, Hypercube fails to live up to the promise of the original film, but it's still a pretty solid flick that will surely entertain sci-fi/horror buffs and budding physicists alike.