I saw this movie because I am a fan of Cube. To some degree, being a fan of the first film is actually a disadvantage with the sequel, because of the similarities and differences, summarized as:
1. Cube 2 had more production money than Cube. This results in "better" effects, but many fewer, and more reliance on effects to engage the viewer than the creativity needed for the ultra-low-budget Cube.
2. Cube 2 had more production money, thus could afford "better" actors. Now, I didn't find the first film's actors to be (all) bad, but the actors in Cube 2 were noticeably better overall. However, the script is so much worse than Cube's (and Cube's script wasn't Oscar-level, shall we say), that the "better" actors got *much* poorer material, and wind up looking like *worse* actors than the original Cube's cast.
3. Cube 2 being a sequel to a surprisingly engaging and beloved film (and having more production money for this reason), has acquired an ego that the original film did not have. This seems to have resulted in all of the (presumably) better-paid production staff (writers, producers, director, et. al.) having the opinion that they know the important values of the Cube "franchise" better than the filmmakers who created it.
So, now the Cube is no longer mysterious, but has a history, a purpose, an entourage, and a future. The set design and visual direction is "artistic", light (!!!), and airy instead of claustrophobic, dark, and tensely dangerous. The story has ambitions of being based on high-level scientific concepts instead of being about escape from deadly danger (the Cube is not very deadly anymore). The characters are no longer the stereotypes of Cube, who at least *had* some shreds of personality to stereotype. Now the exact same characters (with very slight variation) are pawns (who by default have no personality) without personality (yes, I do mean to stress the complete lack of personality here) on a dimension-spanning chessboard. Don't let that dimension thing fool you-- it could have been quite fascinating, but it's underdeveloped and what development there is, is badly handled.
Horror--no, none to be seen. Tension--very mild. Gore-- forget about it. Logic-- ha. Only one character ever even shows any concern about being hungry, normally a crucial issue when humans find themselves in a survival situation. Admittedly, that character's solution is one of the more unique and interesting elements of the film, but again underdeveloped.
Science-- missing in action. Besides, the scientific concept is too high-level for the "ordinary" viewer (and even for many "intellectual" viewers), and there is no effort made to frame this concept in a way that would be accessible to any viewer. The overall quality of the film leads one to suspect that this is because the filmmakers themselves don't know squat about this cool-sounding concept, therefore couldn't explain it. The result is some so-so effects that don't add anything to the film, because they don't provide context, or expand our understanding of the HyperCube's operation, or stimulate character development, or... anything. The fact that the characters don't "get it" is to be expected in a horror/sci-fi thriller. The fact that we the viewers don't get it is the mark of poor design for such a film.
Cube 2 was nonetheless somewhat interesting, because it was generally so pointless (and not in the way that Cube was, Cube 2 is truly aimless in its pointlessness) that I was curious as to whether there would eventually be any point at all.
Turns out there was-- I'm probably one of the few here who actually liked the ending and feels it made the whole film. It didn't quite make *up* for the film, since this "wrap-up" had quite a lot of holes which one would fall through very early in the logical chain if one were so foolish as to try to use the ending to explain the circumstances of the film. It also explained nothing at all about the film's "ultimate question". Many fans would consider this a good thing, except that the intention clearly *was* to attempt to explain something, so the inability to do so signifies a failure rather than a choice. But still, the ending was cool enough to make me wonder what would happen in a potential Cube 3, and how that film could tie the two stories together so that the whole thing ultimately made some sort of sense (whether or not it was the "sense" implied by the original).
If you have to choose between Cube and Cube 2, I'd say see Cube, which, despite its flaws, is scary and intriguing. If you've seen Cube, go ahead and see Cube 2-- just leave yourself twice as much time, because you'll probably want to see Cube again after to remind yourself why you care about this series at all. But you won't be missing much if you decide to read a book or play Frisbee in the park instead.
Review by Backlash007 [IMDB 26 October 2003] from the Internet Movie Database.