’Prisoners of the Ghostland’ is a dark, moody, and at times even frustratingly dull horror game that never quite manages to find its footing.
The Prisoners of the Ghostland is a film about two brothers who are haunted by their past. It’s a slow-paced film with a listless plot that doesn’t really go anywhere.
A famous criminal must break an evil enchantment to rescue a kidnapped girl who has mysteriously disappeared.
In the same way that Nicolas Cage had one of his testicles blasted off in Prisoners of the Ghostland, the visually gonzo piece smashes my cherry for director Sion Sono. The production design, which combines Westerns with 12th-century Japanese culture (with allegedly more contemporary interior designs and neon-lit exteriors), is stunning. It’s made up of a variety of equally fascinating locations, including an old west town controlled by a dark and ruthless king who has a hold on the Japanese people, forcing them into sexual slavery.
A post-apocalyptic environment devastated by a chemical disaster that transformed some prisoners into strangely deformed and burned creatures can also be seen off in the distance. Ordinary people, meanwhile, worship a doomsday clock while trying to live, sometimes disguising themselves as frightening mannequins to escape real ghosts and other perils, if I understand properly.
Again, it’s obvious that a lot of creative insanity went into the main concept for Prisoners of the Ghostland (also Sion Sono’s English-language directorial debut, based on a screenplay by Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai), which contributes to the film’s boring 90 percent. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have wrecked Nicolas Cage’s life by causing him to lose half of his belongings; it’s one of those uncommon occurrences. Naturally, his reaction is amusing, and it will very certainly be included in future compilations of the legendary performer breaking down.
Nonetheless, Nicolas Cage’s character, Hero, seems to be an intentional contradiction, since Prisoners of the Ghostland opens with the beloved madman robbing a bank in Samurai Town with his tall and strong sidekick, Psycho (Nick Cassavettes). The crime does not go according to plan, and the film ends with Hero getting imprisoned, allowing viewers to fill in the gaps.
The governor, on the other hand, releases him from detention (Bill Moseley, who looks like Colonel Sanders and chews the scenery). The governor tasks him with crossing the dangerous eponymous Ghostland in order to recover his runaway favorite sex slave (Sofia Boutella’s Bernice, who is one of the few talents who gets near to portraying the lunacy of a sex slave throughout the bulk of the running time).
The kicker is that Hero is forced to trade in his sumo wrestler underwear for a leather one-piece with explosives (especially around the neck, shoulders, and testicles) that would explode if he threatens Bernice or disobeys instructions. By the end of the second day, Hero needs Bernice to speak her name into a microphone so the governor knows she’s still alive. Otherwise, it’s back to the bombs.
Prisoners of the Ghostland sets itself up for a journey of ongoing violence and action that pays homage to both Western and Japanese cinematic influences with a botched bank robbery, a melting pot of cultures (hoping for a desired thematic effect), a simple rescue promise, and the urgency of bombs equipped to the protagonist. The narrative grinds to a stop for whatever reason, with exposition and world-building efforts buried in style rather than characterisation. Yes, Nicolas Cage is given some ludicrous lines to scream along with a stupid action picture concept, but Prisoners of the Ghostland becomes a prisoner of its over-stylization.
There’s also a mysterious governor’s right-hand samurai (Tak Sakaguchi) who waits for the perfect moment to start his rebellion for personal reasons. It’s a storyline that leads to some satisfying swordplay in the end, but, like Hero, he has to wait until the final 20 minutes to start crimsoning the walls. All of this wouldn’t be an issue if the narrative wasn’t so generic, uninteresting, and disjointed.
It’s always fun to see Nicolas Cage mix his zaniness with genuine character development, but after 45 minutes, it’s obvious that no one has anything to do, leaving one longing for a rage-Cage performance. Despite its slow pace and listless narrative, Prisoners of the Ghostland is only tolerable because of its technical strong points.
The Prisoners of the Ghostland is a film that has been released in theaters. It has received mixed reviews, with many critics saying that it was sluggish and listless. Reference: best sellers movie.
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