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The Speed Cubers - Film Review

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

The Speed Cubers is a Netflix documentary that follows the lives of two rivals and friends in the run up to the 2019 WCA World Cubing Championship: Feliks Zemdegs from Australia and Max Park from the USA. Feliks, a renowned speed-cuber frequently deemed the greatest of all time for his record-breaking achievements over the past decade, faces off against Max, a rising contender who took the cubing world by storm when he finished first in the 2017 World Championships. Despite their competitiveness, the two have a deep friendship with each other, borne out of their shared love for the sport of speed-cubing.

This documentary does a great job at introducing speed-cubing in an accessible way to viewers. However, where it really shines is in its focus on the heartwarming relationship between Feliks and Max. Their close rivalry spurs them on, rather than divides them. Both of them push each other to improve, and are genuinely happy for the other’s success. Feliks’ graciousness in congratulating Max (through video call) every time his record is surpassed by him is a touching gesture that reflects this.

Beyond just the honing of their speed-cubing skills, the documentary also reveals how Max has grown in other ways through this sport. Born with autism, his parents found that his obsession with speed-cubing could be used as an avenue to develop his social skills. His interactions with fellow cubers at speed-cubing competitions (who are just as crazy as he is about the sport) have been extremely beneficial for him. Through these events, he has gradually learnt to pick up social cues from others, deal with loss, and empathize with friends. One cannot help but root for Max both on and off the field.

The story of Feliks and Max is told mainly through interviews with family members and friends. The viewer thus gets an intimate look into both of their lives, and can see how cubing has shaped them deeply throughout their growing up years. The story is also well-paced, and fittingly reaches its climax at the 2019 World Championships. The show captures the tense and exciting atmosphere of the competition, and concludes with a nail-biting 3 x 3 Rubik's Cube contest that goes down to the wire.

Overall, The Speed Cubers is a fun, enjoyable, short film (40 minutes long) to watch when you have the time. Beyond documenting the emotional rollercoaster that participants face at speed-cubing events, this is a feel-good show that highlights the unique and close bond that has developed between two great cubers.

If you enjoyed this film, you may also wish to check out Why We Cube, another speed-cubing documentary narrated by Feliks himself, Wicker Kittens, a documentary about competitive jigsaw puzzling, and Puzzle, a movie about a middle-aged woman whose life changes dramatically after she discovers the joy of solving jigsaw puzzles.

If you wish to try your hand at solving the Rubik’s Cube and its many variants, or other types of mechanical/2-D puzzles, check out our Sparkbox plans here. Also, if you are interested in buying Rubik’s Cubes here in Singapore, check out our friends at CubeWerkz or drop by their physical store.

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