Cube Zero (2004)

The Cube is a prequel to the other two. Unlike them, it shows us the guys behind the cube who operate things and monitor the people inside. they are little more than technicians who follow direct orders from unseen people of authority. They have to struggle with the moral questions around what they are doing while the people inside do the usual interaction, fighting, and turning on each other.

The cube itself is an earlier version of the ones we saw in the other two movies. It is more primitive, and the connections between cubes is more like a tube from one to the next. Lighting is even darker than the first movie, and it has a very industrial feel to it. The traps are similarly old school but effective.

The personal interaction between the trapped people - bread an butter for these movies - is substantially less important in this movie. Unlike the other two, these people have no memory whatsoever of anything before they found themselves in the cube. As a result, they don't have ingrained prejudices and automatic hatred of the other people they are with. That means it's less interesting for them to interact with each other. Still, they figured out to "boot the room" by throwing a boot into the room to look for traps almost immediately.

They try really hard to make sure that we think of one of the technicians as really, really smart. He comes off more as condescending than anything else. Eventually, he enters the cube to save the girl he fell in love with at first sight. Then, the big bad guys have to send down an administrator and his lackeys to isolate the technician and take care of the issue.

The administrator is played by some creepy guy who does a horrible job being creepy and mean to the remaining technician. He inexplicably has a metal thing protruding from an eye socket and constantly refers to the technician as incorrect derivations of his actual name. It's all an attempt to demean him and feel superior, but his attempts to be THAT creepy are laughable.

The acting, then, is brought down pretty significantly by the one guy, and the rest of the people are middle of the road at best. Ultimately, this movie is really hurt by the storyline that doesn't follow what made the first one so good. There isn't enough time to develop personalities, so pretty much no one does. As a result, the movie languishes in its own kind of temporal flux. We know what will come next, and these people become inconsequential.

Acting was not great.
Story was mediocre.
Direction was okay.
Dialogue was tedious.
Effects were sparse, but pretty good.

2.0/5

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