DIRECTED BY: Ernie Barbarash
FEATURING: Zachary Bennet, Stephanie Moore, Michael Riley
PLOT: Audiences return to the cube from Cube in this prequel, only this time
we see the diabolical prison from the vantage point of its bureaucratic overseers as well as the poor souls trapped inside.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While the first Cube sequel (Cube 2: Hypercube) tried unsuccessfully to ratchet up the weirdness factor by throwing in more effects and a hyperbolic, reality-twisting plot, Cube Zero instead chooses to focus on a standard rescue narrative. It also purports to answer (although unrealistically) pretty much every question one might have as to the cube’s design or purpose, thus completely exorcising the mysterious atmosphere of the original and leaving nothing left to be said or done in the Cube universe.
COMMENTS: Unlike its predecessors, which showed b-movie influences but had higher aspirations, Cube Zero is an unapologetic action/sci-fi vehicle. The paranoia of the previous entries only arises sporadically: once when drone Wynn asks a co-worker about his memories, and once in a highly effective scene that poses a surprisingly literal theological question. Otherwise, the movie is more interested in the cube’s traps, imbuing them with gleefully gory capabilities (in an early scene, a victim startlingly dissolves into a pile of gooey grue before our eyes). Add to this formula a cartoonish villain in the person of Jax, who sports not only a cane and an ironically genteel cadence but also a glittering metal implant where his eye once was, and you get an effective (if standard issue) b-movie, but a highly ineffective weird movie.
Some Cube fans (who apparently missed the major point of the movie) yearned for answers to the riddle of the Cube’s existence. They finally got them with this installment. Unfortunately, since these revelations destroy the fragile mystery and deliberate ambiguity that made Cube special, Cube Zero probably deals a fatal blow to the franchise.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“… if you enjoyed the last two ‘Cube’ movies, then you’ll feel right at home. True, there’s nothing overly original in ‘Cube Zero’… [although the] movie does offer a lot of answers, there’s that unshakeable sense of [deja] vu. Introducing Wynn and the other operators marks the sequel’s best decision, but adding the wacky Jax and his two black suited underlings takes away some of the film’s gloomy disposition and makes ‘Cube Zero’ something of a comedy, with a lot of ‘Brazil’-esque kooky bits and set scenery that seems to exist for the singular purpose of being kooky.” —Beyond Hollywood