Prisoners of the Ghostland (\N)

Nicolas Cage,
A notorious criminal must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.
  • 4.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai, Writer:
  • Sion Sono, Director:
  • Nate Bolotin, Ko Mori, Laura Rister, Producer:

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Trailer:

8 / 10

Sundance 2021: Prisoners of the Ghostland is as crazy as one would expect from a movie starring Nicolas Cage... and I love crazy!

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Nonsensical. Absurd. Ridiculous. Just plain stupid. These words usually serve to describe an incredibly awful movie that I try to forget forever and ever. However, some extremely rare pieces of absolutely crazy filmmaking are also characterized by the adjectives above, offering me the most entertaining time I can possibly ask for. An example of this case is Prisoners of the Ghostland. It's exceptionally dumb, follows a narrative completely devoid of any logic, and mixes up dozens of many genres by using different costumes, all sorts of epic scores, and character archetypes.

Boasting an impressive production and set design (major Hollywood studios should be envious), Sion Sono offers the audience precisely what they expect from a film starring the maddest actor alive, Nicolas Cage. From the well-choreographed, well-edited, explosively bloody, hilarious action sequences to the infinite storylines, the viewers either accept whatever lunatic plot point or device the movie throws at the audience, or this is going to be a festival of pointing out what's wrong with the whole film. Prophecies, nuclear wars, zombies, samurais, cowboys... every generic development and formulaic characters we always see in every genre are present in this amalgam of pure chaos.

As expected, Cage shines in another role that will probably generate thousands of new memes, but this time Sofia Boutella and Bill Moseley also deliver two captivating performances that kept me invested when Cage was out. The only problem I have with this type of movie is the balance of the whole craziness. I don't mind every single minute being packed with utterly ludicrous stuff, but when it starts getting genuinely confusing, that's when it becomes too much for me to handle. Nevertheless, as long as you keep your mind open and focus on the protagonist's main mission - and solely on that - you'll be able to enjoy this movie as much or more than I did.

Prisoners of the Ghostland is everything a film starring Nicolas Cage is expected of being. Possessing technical attributes of making the biggest Hollywood studios shamelessly hide with envy, Sion Sono's movie is as illogical, absurd, ridiculous, stupid, and insanely entertaining as I hoped it would be. By mixing up dozens of distinct genres, the straightforward premise gets sucked into a world of total anarchy, where samurais, cowboys, nuclear explosions, modern cars, and much more collide to surround an otherwise simple narrative with nonsensically hilarious storylines and awesome action sequences. Sofia Boutella and Bill Moseley help Cage tackle this chaos, but the latter is the absolute standout due to his remarkable experience in crazy films. Despite it occasionally crossing the line and becoming too much for me to manage - it becomes seriously confusing - as long as the viewers are well-prepared to accept every jaw-dropping new development, fun is guaranteed with this brilliant satire.

Rating: A-

8 / 10

Wild and unique

Nicolas Cage. Seems like that's all it takes to garner instant interest in a film, as the actor has achieved living legend status in the eyes of many genre fans (and for good reason). In his latest, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Cage plays Hero, a ruthless, imprisoned bank robber set free by a wealthy warlord known as The Governor (Bill Moseley, even more to get excited about), and tasked with finding The Governor's kidnapped "granddaughter", Bernice (Sofia Boutella, always exciting, in more ways than one). Taking place in the post-apocalyptic Samurai Town, Cage's Hero is strapped in a leather suit set to self-destruct in 5 days, including detonators located in the vicinity of each testicle (testicuule, The Governor pronounces it), and encounters gunslingers, ghosts, samurai, and a crazed cult. The film puts Cage in an Escape From New York meets Big Trouble in Little China scenario, and the end result is a movie just as wild as you would imagine, an enormously entertaining adrenaline rush that brings the Cage Rage.

Once the film is set up and our Hero is on his journey, the film has plenty of unexpected laughs and is very funny at times. It almost works as a spoof of the Western, action genre. "What a badass," "he's so cool," say a couple of awestruck onlookers as Hero chooses a dainty bicycle with a basket instead of the black sports car when he leaves on his journey. He does eventually end up with he car because, tick tock, the clock is ticking on that deadly leather jumpsuit.

While looking for Bernice, Hero is lead to a torched, windswept landscape with crumbling mannequins swaying back and forth, cracked and broken shells that conceal prisoners inside of them. Every turn in this world holds a different danger, a threat to end Hero's life at any moment. And all of this is handled with such confidence by director Sion Sono, creating a thrilling and playful and insane world of filthy neon. Imagine Mad Max as a supernatural Samurai Western.

In the middle of all this madness is Nicolas Cage, wonderfully off the wall and right at home in such a place. It feels as though the film was inspired by Cage's reputation playing odd characters, giving the film a match-made-in-heaven quality. If Cage gives Prisoners of the Ghostland it's unlikely (anti) hero, it's Sofia Boutella as Bernice who gives the movie its glimmer of hope. It's Bernice we root for as she's the possibility for a brighter future in the Ghostland. What an exquisite performance from Boutella alongside the scene stealing Cage.

There's a religious-like fixation on time in the Ghostland. The inhabitants hold the giant clock displayed on the bones-like structure of an old capital building at 8:14, fearing if it hits 8:15 the atomic blasts will once again wreak havoc. The people who live under The Governor refer to him as a clock, as time itself. In the Ghostland, everyone is a prisoner to a forgotten existence, to a lifestyle lost. Time has vanished for the prisoners of the Ghostland, only recognizable in the form of their rulers. This fixation with time really pushes Hero's race against the clock to the forefront, as well as any hope the future of the Ghostland has left.

Prisoners of the Ghostland presents a unique vision from filmmaker Sion Sono ( it would make for a great double feature with Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch). A bloody, dirty, balls to the wall, gorgeous looking blast of color, chaos, and redemption in a land of hopelessness. Nicolas Cage leans into his Nicolas Cage persona, Bill Moseley has fun as a smooth talking, white suit wearing cowboy, and Sofia Boutella steals the show with a subdued, beautifully heartfelt performance. Big time entertainment, Prisoners of the Ghostland is a must see.

7 / 10

This movie makes no sense and I got exactly what I came for!

Nicolas Cage and Sion Sono are a match made in heaven and it shows in this crazy, surrealist, Neo-Western, Kabuki ghost story.

Cage & Sono's styles mix perfectly, complimenting the bizarre yet seamless amalgamation of traditional Japanese & American culture into one world where somehow nothing feels out of place no matter how much absurd stuff is thrown at the wall.

6 / 10

One of a kind

Sion Sono has made a wonderfully imaginative movie that so effortlessly blends so many different ideas and genres from comedy, to action to dark and poignant themes. All the actors do a great job, particularly Sofia Boutella and Nic Cage with a wild performance. Also, the cinematography is wonderful, elevated by the beautiful colours. However, where the film suffers for me is that the plot feels almost "clunky" without any natural flow, events seem to just take place. This bizarre world also isn't established too well, and it felt as if there needed some form of exposition, not too much, but more than it gives. Nonetheless, this movie is exceptionally entertaining, despite its flaws, particularly thanks to Nic Cage's performance.

10 / 10

10/10 if it was a comedy

As an actions film I'd rate it 3/10 and I'm being generous. Tak Sakaguchi was the only one that was good, Nicolas Cage acting was really funny I couldn't take the movie seriously I laughing all through. Change the genre to comedy and the movie will blow up then.