Review Date: March 23, 2002
Released by: Lions Gates Films
Release date: 4/15/2003
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
In 1997 the original Cube was introduced to the world. With it came another prime example of low budget filmmaking at its finest. The original Cube was suspenseful and original. It benefited from a wonderful cast and some decent special effects for a low budget movie. With a budget of 365,000 (Canadian), Cube managed to rake in $500,000 during its limited theatrical release in the United States. Tack on to that a large amount of DVD sales and you have a successful movie. As any horror fan knows, with success comes sequels to further cash in on the success of the original. And also as any horror fan knows, with sequels comes either a hit or a miss, with the latter generally being the case.
Years ago when I first heard a sequel to Cube was in the works, I was naturally reluctant. Perhaps more so than usual because Cube is one of those movies where you just can't imagine a sequel. This isn't a case of simply resurrecting Freddy from the dead and giving him a new adventure and new string of victims. Cube involved several strangers stuck in a large and deadly maze. How much more can a sequel offer? Several different strangers stuck in a large and deadly maze? I don't know. The thought of a sequel just didn't click for me. But hey, I'm always one to sit down, kick back, and hope for the best. Lets take a look at Cube 2: Hypercube and see if it can live up to the brilliance of the original.
Cube 2 starts off much like the original Cube. Several strangers awaken in a large maze consisting of seemingly identical rooms that are linked to one another via small hatches. None of the strangers know how or why they were brought to the cube. What they do know is human nature and the desire to survive and be free. The group of strangers - consisting of Simon Grady (Geraint Wyn Davies), Kate Filmore (Kari Matchett), Jerry Whitehall (Neil Crone), Max Reisler (Matthew Ferguson), Mrs. Paley (Barbara Gordon), Julia (Lindsey Connell), and Sasha (Grace Lynn Kung) - band together in hope of escaping from the cube.
As time progresses, the group encounters strange happenings in the cube. Time and multiple realities begin to shift and intersect with another. Deadly and bizarre objects begin to appear in various rooms. The cube seems endless and hope begins to diminish. When the group begins to discover that they are somehow all connected to the deadly cube, trust and sanity begin to depart. The group crumbles as further lies unfold and reality begins to further twist and distort. The remaining few must survive from both one another and the deadly cube in hopes of discovering the secrets that may lead to escape.
Cube 2 sounds a lot like the original, and it's hard not to. A cube is a cube after all. What more can Cube 2 bring to the table? Fortunately, Cube 2 does bring a slew of new and interesting ideas to the sequel. The basic concept, as described above, remain the same. What differs is the strangers' experiences inside of the cube. This time around there are alternate realities, bizarre time shifts, and much more to deal with. Without spoiling much, those alternate realities are what I enjoyed most about Cube 2. I've always been a sucker for alternate realities. It's an easy way to explore a vast amount of concepts for a film or show. Such is the case for Cube 2, where the alternate realities bring some great, unique scenes and ideas to the movie.
As with the original, the sequel benefits from a strong cast. A cast that is capable of bringing some excitement, fear, and tension to a movie that takes place in seemingly identical rooms (in fact, I'm sure as was the case with the original, this entire movie was probably filmed in just a few rooms). It's easy to relate to the characters since most of us could and probably would imagine what we would do in such a situation. Would you panic and lose it? Or would you fight for survival?
Thanks to a no doubt larger budget, Cube 2 has more, and superior special effects than the original. If there is any complaint I have with Cube 2 it's the traps that are missing from room to room. With no traps to deal with, viewers lose that fear and tension build-up that occurred in the original. The flip side to that argument is that Cube 2 is a sequel and it shouldn't be doing everything identical to the original. And it doesn't, but there is that loss of tension. Fortunately, I found the multiple realties and the time shifting partially made up for it; at least to the point where the sequel is still enjoyable to watch.
A few of the secrets behind the cube are revealed in the sequel, but not enough to close the possibilities of further sequels and not enough to end the mysteries surrounding the cube. In the end, Cube 2 is a mixed bag. I have no doubt some will dislike it due to the fact it's a sequel. For those willing to give it a try, I think you're in for a good time. Cube 2 is nowhere near as good as the original, but it's a lot better than most of the other sequels out there.
Cube 2 is presented in a beautiful anamorphic (16x9) transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Print damage and grain are non existent here; nor are there any signs of compression artifacts. Much of the lighting from room to room is bright white, meaning there aren't many background colors to comment on. The colors that are seen, such as a red dress worn by a young lady trapped in the cube, appear rich and vivid. The image remains sharp and flesh tones appear natural throughout presentation. This is a near perfect transfer with no noticeable flaws that I can point out. I'm rating it with a solid A.
Cube 2 includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The mix is top notch. There are lots of effects in the movie that cause lots of activity in the rear speakers and LFE. The sound balance is nicely done and I found no real problem with it.
Lions Gate didn't go as far to release Cube 2 as a Signature Series DVD like they did for the first Cube movie, but there are still a good amount of extras present on the disc. First up is the audio commentary with Ernie Barbarash, producer and co-writer of Cube 2, and Mark Sanders, film editor. The two discuss a lot of the technical aspects of the film, including much of the special effects and story ideas. They also share some experiences working with the cast members. It's a decent commentary, but those not all that interested in filmmaking will probably want to skip it.
The are two behind-the-scenes featurettes included. First is 'Making of Cube 2: Hyper Cube'. It contains various members of the crew discussing the opening title sequence, the virtual cube, moving cubes, various death sequences, time speed sequences, razorsphere sequence (this concept was changed in the final film) and its various effects, and the end of the cube. Next is the 'Director's Perspective with Andrzej Sekula'. Andrzej discusses various aspects of the film, including the challenges he faced in creating it and the various characters. Both featurettes focus primarily on technical aspects of the film.
Seven deleted scenes are included, including an extended ending to the film. Finishing off the supplements are storyboards, with the option to simultaneously display the actual scene from the film it was created for; a slide slow gallery; and various trailers, including a trailer for the original Cube.
All in all this is a fairly meaty special edition. Most of it focuses on the technical aspects of the film, so don't expect much in terms of story discussion or actor interviews, but most of it is interesting enough to go through at least once. The deleted scenes are a nice bonus as well, especially the extended ending.
It's not a perfect sequel, nor does it match the brilliance and edge-of-your-seat intensity the original provided, but Cube 2 is still a worthy sequel in my opinion. It offers some new and enjoyable aspects to the whole cube concept. Fans of the original Cube are better off renting first, just to make sure they enjoy the sequel. I think most will, however, as I consider myself a die-hard fan of the original. The DVD itself is top notch, providing an excellent transfer, audio mix, and some decent supplements. Well done, Lions Gate.
Movie - B
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 34 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Producer commentary
- Deleted scenes
- Film gallery
- Theatrical trailers