&#91MOVIE REVIEW&#93Classic horror movie's sequel a little square

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Classic horror movie's sequel a little square

The original "Cube" rose from Canadian obscurity to become something of a cult hit at the video store.

The story was elegantly simple -- seven seemingly unrelated people woke up to find themselves imprisoned in a cubical room. Each wall had one door in the center, connecting the room to an identical room on the other side.

Well, nearly identical -- some rooms contained hidden death traps that would burn, gas or skewer anyone who entered. Together, the group had to figure out how to avoid the dangerous rooms and escape the giant puzzle.

Well, the Rubik's Cube from hell is back, and this time it's more confounding than ever.

Just like the first film, a group of seemingly unrelated people are thrown together in this mystifying prison. And also just like the first film, "Cube 2" is more concerned with social commentary and broadly drawn social stereotypes than it is about plot.

The characters in "Cube 2" include a blind girl, a psychologist, a computer hacker, a theoretical physicist, an engineer and a really violent guy who might be a government agent.

This time, however, the rooms lack the marking device that the people used in the first film to identify which were safe and which were dangerous.

This cube is a lot bigger than last time. One character starts numbering the rooms as he travels through the cube, but stops when he comes across a room with the number 60659 written on a wall. Written in his handwriting, no less.

How is that possible? Welcome to the "hyper" part of "Hypercube." This time the maze exists in four dimensions, and the rooms have a disturbing tendency not to follow the laws of physics.

Breaking the laws of physics apparently requires the use of computer graphics, and this is one area where "Cube 2" falls short. Many of the effects simply aren't up to snuff and look cheesy.

In addition, the sequel has the same kind of wooden, poorly written characters as the original, the same dubious physics and the same pseudo-critique of the military-industrial complex.

That said, if you enjoyed "Cube," you'll probably like "Cube 2." Despite all the problems that plagued the original, it became a popular video for a reason ?the simplicity of the plot created a sense of claustrophobia and dread. And while a lot of the gore from the first film is now missing, the repetition and the sense of surprise remains.

Directed by Andrzej Sekula from a script by Sean Hood, "Cube 2" has none of the creative team that worked on the original. But that, in some ways, probably helps the sequel.

There's only so much one can do with such a basic premise. Switching creative teams probably helped the filmmakers to think, ahem, out of the box.

by Mark Russell
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