1 August 2002 | Eggo
not a stinker but a mixed bag
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 p*** 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