Film Review: Cube Zero (2004)

Also known as: Cubeº, Cube Ø
Release Date: October 15th, 2004 (Screamfest)
Directed by: Ernie Barbarash
Written by: Ernie Barbarash
Music by: Norman Orenstein
Cast: Zachary Bennett, David Huband, Stephanie Moore, Michael Riley, Martin Roach

Lions Gate Entertainment, 97 Minutes

Review:

“Do you believe in God? It all hinges on that?” – Eric Wynn

I thought I had seen Cube Zero before but it may have just been in my mind. They sort of all blend together. However, this one was always said to be better than Cube 2: Hypercube but I disagree with the consensus. This is my least favorite Cube movie out of the three.

This film serves as a prequel to the other two, which is sort of cool but at the same time, leaves the interesting reveal at the end of the previous movie completely unresolved. But truthfully, nothing is really resolved with the conclusion of this series. There is some new insight and new clues dropped and I’m okay without having all the answers but it seems like each film after the first just threw shit on a wall, waiting to see what would stick. And furthermore, the director of the first film never returned for any of the sequels and I have to view that original vision as the official and sole body of work in the Cube universe. Everything else is just other people’s attempt at explaining the complex story of another artist.

The Cube movies are similar to the Saw films series, as I just have to ignore the sequels and appreciate the original body of work on its own because every new chapter is a bastardization of the original and only complicates things further than they need to be. They’re just glorified fan fictions, really.

Like the other films int he series, this one has some terrible acting. The bad script doesn’t help the incapable cast either.

However, this film does have the coolest traps, overall. Being a prequel, this Cube is more simplified in its design and in its lethal trickery.

At first glance, the addition of seeing the world behind the Cube was a welcome change. But in the end, it distracts from the Cube experience itself and just gives us a movie of two halves that are both sort of a mess on their own. Once they mix, the mess gets worse.

I’m not sure why people prefer this one to Cube 2. I mean, neither are great but this one is boring as shit and none of the new stuff is as interesting as just watching the game within the Cube unfold.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: The other two Cube movies.

Film Review: Cube²: Hypercube (2002)

Also known as: Cube 2 (simplified), Hypercube (promotional title)
Release Date: July 29th, 2002 (München Fantasy Filmfest)
Directed by: Andrzej Sekula
Written by: Sean Hood
Music by: Norman Orenstein
Cast: Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn Davies, Grace Lynn King, Matthew Ferguson, Neil Crone

Lions Gate Films, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Each one of these rooms has six of these doors and portals, but no matter how many different doors and portals I go through I always end up in the same three rooms.” – Jerry Whitehall

Cube²: Hypercube is a worthwhile sequel and it isn’t.

The reason why it is worthwhile is because it takes the established formula from the original Cube and expands on it and builds off of it. The rules are sort of the same but things have changed, as our abductees find themselves in a new Cube structure. Things aren’t as simple as they were before and now there is an extra time and space dynamic that makes things more timey wimey than an episode of Doctor Who.

The reason why this isn’t worthwhile is actually more than just one reason.

For starters, the film is a jumbled mess and while it introduces some cool science-y ideas and concepts, it is a giant ass paradox of paradoxes and pretty confusing at points. It is one of those movies that relies on the viewer being more than a novice at quantum physics but if you are more than a novice, it all falls apart. It’s like the writer read some amateur science blog written by someone who theorizes a lot but doesn’t actually study and test their zany theories.

Secondly, the traps in this movie are terrible and flat out suck. Every danger is some sort of shitty CGI thing. There are the shitty CGI glass pillar things that decapitate, the shitty CGI killer tesseract blender blade thingy, a shitty CGI moving wall that looks like… well, shitty CGI.

Also, you have atrocious acting. I think, overall, the acting is a step up from the first Cube but the actors who are the worst here are worse than the worst from the first movie. The main actress is okay and comes across better than anyone else in this series, thus far. Still, none of the acting is anything to write home about.

I don’t hate Cube² but I also don’t like it. It had some really interesting ideas that fell flat almost as soon as they were introduced but it did kept me engaged enough to want to see how this story panned out.

Really, I just want to know what the hell that ending was about and I want more backstory to these strange experiments. But that’s what Cube Zero, the third and final film is for.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Cube and Cube Zero.

Film Review: Cube (1997)

Release Date: September 9th, 1997 (TIFF)
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: Andre Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali
Music by: Mark Korven
Cast: Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Maurice Dean Wint

Feature Film Project, Odeon Films, Viacom Canada, Ontario Film Development Corporation, Cube Libre, Téléfilm Canada, Harold Greenberg Fund, Trimark Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

“No more talking. No more guessing. Don’t even think about nothing that’s not right in front of you. That’s the real challenge. You’ve gotta save yourselves from yourselves.” – Rennes

Cube is a film with a great concept mired by bad acting and questionable direction.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the movie and it is, by far, the best of the three films in the series. Granted, the sequel and prequel weren’t made by this film’s director and therefore, can’t be considered his vision, even if they are extensions of the ideas established in this film.

The movie is actually pretty impressive. For one, it all takes place in a very confined space. It was filmed in one room on a very modest budget and even if it wasn’t a critical success, initially, it has developed a well deserved cult following.

The premise of Cube is intriguing. The setup is not wholly original but the overall idea for this film is.

We come to meet a group of strangers, who find themselves in a giant cube maze. Every room looks the same: a big cube with a door on all six sides, each door leading to an identical cube. However, some rooms have traps that kill and maim characters throughout the film. They must use their skills to try and traverse the deadly maze in an effort to find an escape.

You never really find out why the people were put in the cube or what its purpose is. There is the thought that they were selected for their different skill sets and that the game they are playing is only happening to give the cube a reason to exist.

None of the questions are really answered by the time you get to the end of the film and while that will most assuredly annoy most people, I was really happy with there not being a big reveal. The film is effective because it doesn’t need to explain itself. We meet these people, they are in this situation, we watch the experiment play out.

The later sequels started explaining more but without Vincenzo Natali in the director’s chair, I can’t really accept those events within the context of this film.

Cube is well paced, moves briskly but still builds tension in the right way. It’s not as predictable as you might think but then again, some things sort of just happen because they’re tropes of this picture’s genre style.

The only real negative is the acting. It’s not horrible and a few characters are likable but a few of them become grating after 90 minutes. I think that the acting quality just comes from lack of experience and a director that was more into the visual elements of the film than the performances of its stars. Nicole de Boer who was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine around the same time as this, has proven she’s got chops.

Cube is certainly a worthwhile experience and it has a bit more gore than I remembered, as I haven’t seen it in a very long time. Not a lot of gore but some nice, quick gross outs here and there.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Cube sequels.