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Cube Zero Reviews

Reviewed By: Derek Armstrong

The cult-hit Cube series is an interesting narrative phenomenon. While each installment contains new insight into this world of institutionalized torture, each also functions as kind of a remake of the original -- only guided by the vision of a different director. Cube Zero, a series prequel, continues that trend. This can be kind of frustrating, as it means we're introduced to yet another group of memory-deprived strangers who have no idea how to escape without getting sliced to ribbons. But Ernie Barbarash -- who also scripted Cube 2: Hypercube, adding "director" to his credits this time out -- does deviate from the previous films by finally stepping outside the cube and into its control room. Since these particular human hamsters are kind of duds, it's welcome when Barbarash shifts the action to those who monitor the deathtrap -- who are sort of like hamsters themselves. An interesting dynamic crops up between worker drones Dodd (David Huband) and Wynn (Zachary Bennett), the former refusing to make waves for fear of reprisal, the latter no longer able to stomach his complicity in these under-explained killings. During their one-on-one scenes, the viewer debates the kill-or-be-killed morality alongside them. Unfortunately, that plot gets tainted when Barbarash introduces the single most ridiculous character in the series: Jax (Michael Riley), a higher-level functionary on an emergency visit to their station. In an embarrassing failure of both acting and directing, Riley embodies every over-the-top affectation an effete villain has ever shown, including a tendency to cackle, belittle, quote other languages, and walk with a cane. Shortcomings like these contribute to Cube Zero being the least effective film in the series. But it does make smart additions to the Cube mythology without giving away all the mysteries -- and its revelations cast the other two movies in an even less hopeful light.