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25 July, 2005

Review: 'Cypher' (2002)

There are some things one just can't polish....

I really liked 'Cube', its less-than-wonderful dialogue and acting carried by a stunning concept.  The necessities of a low budget also accentuated the claustrophobia without highlighting the fact they could only afford a very restricted set!

However, on the strength of 'Cube', I watched 'Cypher', the next film from the same director (Vincenzo Natali), on DVD last night and encountered the opposite problem. The acting (Jeremy Northam, Lucy Liu) was more than passable (not that the script demanded great emotional intensity) and the use of CGI was good, if a little flashy, but the story and execution were awful. I can imagine that Her Majesty's Plausibility Inspector (what? How could you doubt he exists?) required a period of sedation, even therapy after viewing even minor details.

Aside from the ludicrous central premises, the most illustrative example was a tiny one.
Access to a vast (why so big?) underground data vault was via a lift (elevator) concealed in the middle of a remote field. A camouflaged panel slid aside, the head of the lift shaft rose up like a gleaming missile (no; no other phallic shape suggested itself, whatsoever) and a door opened about two metres above the ground. Steps then slid out. Why not, say, open the door at ground-level?
Magnify that trivial point to a 95-min film, and you understand my overall criticism.

Incidentally, this is the first time I've seen Nigel Bennett in a film, but I recognised him instantly, as he's the star of an ice cream advert shown before every film scheduled at Lancaster's Regal cinema since at least the mid-Nineties; the ad itself has become a local joke, and certainly added to 'Cypher's inadvertent comedy value.


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