Monday, November 7, 2016

Manic Movie Month: Cube Zero

With the third and last movie of the "Cube" franchise, it was pretty obvious that we needed a lot of closure. I mean, there is only so far that you can go with the same basic plot line over and over again (well, unless you are the "Final Destination" movies). So when "Cube Zero" was announced as a prequel, it was pretty much a relief. We would get the answers that we never got from the first movie, and none of the tesseract bullshit from "Cube 2". So yeah, there were some hope for this movie after all.

As previously stated, "Cube Zero" is a prequel, but not only that, we get to see the events of the cube from a different perspective, the perspective of watchers Wynn (Zachary Bennett) and Dodd (David Huband). Both are almost like prisoners in their jobs, forced to monitor the test subjects that supposedly signed a consent form to be in there instead of getting the death penalty. When being asked by the higher ups to monitor one Cassandra Rains Stephanie Moore), Wynn gets her file only to discover that she has no consent form at all. He grows more and more suspicious of everything, and then almost loses it when he sees someone reaching the exit, a former colleague called Owen (Tony Munch). He gets incinerated for not believing in God, and in that moment, Wynn simply decides to enter the cube himself to rescue Cassandra from her fate.

Warning, spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.

So the plot is most certainly different from the previous two movies, even if it still have some similar elements to it. We still get to follow one group of people trying to survive the cube and its traps, but the perspective changes from time to time, from inside to outside. It is interesting to see Wynn and Dodd, how they deal with this situation. Sure, their characters are kind of cliche, one having tons of guilt and one trying to stay loyal to the company because he has no real choice, but they work, so I cannot really complain.

As for the people within the cube, we do not get too much information about them (except for Cassandra Rains of course), and that is fine by me, because I know from the start that Cassandra will be the only one who will survive. It is all about the journey in this movie, and how the persons in the cube try to survive. One thing I must praise the movie is that it is actually explaining how they are thinking on ways to escape, that the letters are basically coordinates. It is a thing they failed miserably in the last movie, and that alone makes "Cube Zero" much more enjoyable, even if it is more simple math involved here.

As for the traps, they are not all too original. Sure, some of them are gruesome and truly effective, but most of them are borrowed from the first movie, or just slightly altered. One good example of this is the opening scene, which we follow a man named Ryjkin. He enters one room, and gets sprayed all over his body. At first, it just seems like water, but eventually his flesh starts to melt, hinting that the liquid was acid. Sounds familiar? One of the characters in the first movie was also sprayed with acid, only it was only on the face and the results were more immediate. Still, that scene itself is actually really cool and creepy, making my skin itch when he scratch away his flesh to his bare bones. It is one of few moments were the movie uses gore, and it does it well those other few times as well.

Hey! Stop slacking, get back to work!

Besides from the changed perspective, this movie is basically the original, with few minor tweaks here and there. It is very minimal in its approach, and it tries to build the suspense as well as possible, and while it does a fine job, I am kind of disappointed that they did not try to expand it even further. Sure, the fact that we see the reactions of the observers is cool, but the cube itself has not changed one bit (except that the rooms have letters, instead of numbers). I would have liked to see something new to the cube, nothing too crazy, just something to spice things up.

Which leads me to the acting, and the overall dialogue. It is not the most inspired writing I have come across, and it kind of shows in the acting, especially inside the cube. As previously stated, we do not get to know too much about the characters, which makes it kind of hard to feel sympathy for them. It is not like the last movie, where I really wanted to see them all die, but I do not see any reason to care for these people's well being, except for Cassandra just so that she can be reunited with here daughter. And that is ultimately the biggest problem with the movie, that this is basically about two people, Cassandra Rains and Eric Wynn, the rest are just filler... except for one particular character...


So after Eric enters the Cube, the higher ups sends someone to make the problem disappear. Enter Jax, one of the cube's supervisors, and a real life version of the Yu-Gi-Oh character Maximillian Pegasus, but instead of getting a sarcastic toon lover who created the world's biggest card game, we get a creepy psychopath who takes any means necessary to get things done. Jax makes this movie that more awesome, and the actor (Michael Riley) does a great job in selling the character, creating the most memorable character from all three movies. Jax and his two henchmen, Finn and Quigley, instantly takes control of the command center, and Dodd can just sit there, and worry about what will happen to his colleague.

Eventually, they find Wynn, who in his turn has found Cassandra and Haskell, a former Izon henchmen that got sentenced to the cube too. However, they does not get much further, since Jax sets the traps to surround them, and just as he is about to go for the kill, the power shuts down, and the cube goes into reset mode, which means that our protagonists have 10 minutes to find the exit, or else they will get obliterated by the cube's "clean sweep".

After killing off Dodd (who caused the power shortage), Jax gets the idea of activating the chip inside of Haskell's brain, turning him into a mindless super soldier for them. This is without any doubt the most ridiculous part of the movie, where we see Haskell jump a full room length, from one floor to the one above it. I do not care if that chip changes your nerve system and shit, it cannot give you ultra human strength and agility, and if it really did give him that, he still dies like a bitch, being outsmarted by Wynn and Rains, who finds the exit and escapes just as the clean sweep starts.

We then find Wynn and Rains outside in some wood landscape, where they cannot rest, because Izon is right behind them, and eventually catches up to Wynn, but Rains escapes and gets reunited with her daughter. Unfortunately for Wynn, he gets captured, gets some serious comments from Jax, and then goes under the knife, where he basically is being lobotomized. This is where we reach the true ending, but also the start of the first movie. It turns out that Wynn is basically Kazan, the dude that escaped in the original. You know, the mentally handicapped one. And while the scene itself have different actors, the dialogue and actions are the same as in the first movie, which is really cool, and answers some questions, like how Kazan basically knew the way out and how the traps worked. A very satisfying end, despite some questions being unanswered.


As a prequel, "Cube Zero" does its job. It gives us another perspective on things and it answers some of the questions that the previous two movies never could. And while in my opinion it cannot really match the unique nature of the original, it still manages to create an enjoyable experience that you most likely want to stick around until the very end, even if some parts of the ending are kind of predictable. So yeah, not as good as the original, but a hell of a lot better than the tesseract bullshit.

Rating: 6,5/10

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