The collaboration between Sion Sono, dubbed “the most subversive Japanese filmmaker” with Nicolas Cage the master of Nouveau Shamanic, in a film titled as cool as Prisoners of the Ghostland. Sounds perfect and promises an impossible madness that ends in failure.
His first act seems to have succeeded in fulfilling that promise. Even from the early minutes, when Cage, the nameless hero who would later be called “Hero”, robbed the bank with Psycho (Nick Cassavetes). All sides of the bank are white, while the employees wear uniforms of different colors. Cage entered, brandished a gun, then shouted, “Banzai!”.Top Movie Site
Don’t ask why. Prisoners of the Ghostland is the kind of film where the audience will find it difficult to enjoy, if they ask, “Why is person A acting like that? Why is person B talking like that? Why does person C look weird?”, and so on. We can quite accept that after the tragedy in the robbery, Hero was arrested by The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose arrival was accompanied by a line of women in kimonos, who clapped while singing his name.
The Governor leads his area of rule arbitrarily, also mixing Japanese culture and the wild west, which of course was chosen for aesthetic reasons, and not a form of criticism about westernization, colonialism, and the like. Again, it doesn’t really matter. No need to worry. We just need to know that The Governor asked Hero to find his granddaughter, Bernice (Sofia Boutella), who is suspected to be missing in Ghostland, a barren place full of mystery. That said, vile ghosts terrorized there.
If successful, then the Hero will be given freedom. As a guarantee, he must wear a special costume that has explosives in three areas: neck, hands, and testicles. When the impulse to hurt a woman arises, one of the bombs explodes immediately. Can you imagine what kind of spectacle this film is? Best Movie
The first act is very entertaining. The director’s trademark, supported by a script by Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai, brings out absurdity and curiosity. Hardly any shots are wasted. Sono made sure that whenever our eyes were fixed on the screen, we were always shaken by its strangeness. Whether it comes from eye-catching properties, unique costumes, or the behavior of the characters.
Of course Cage is the leading figure, as a hero who is so badass, preferring to ride a bicycle basket rather than a luxury car when carrying out missions. At this point I realized, if Cage performs badly, it’s not his fault, but rather that the filmmaker didn’t know how to take advantage of the actor’s talent. When let loose, Cage, here vehemently shouting “TESTICLES!”, always quenches the thirst for entertainment seekers.
Unfortunately, as the duration goes on, it is Sono who seems to be holding back in his English film debut. As usual, Sono’s directing pays no attention to the whims of pacing or intensity building, and is completely focused on throwing whatever he can at the screen. Even though he can turn a boring moment on paper into a unique presentation (an exposition of the history of Ghostland’s creation is packaged like a performance art), Sono seems to run out of ammunition when confronted with a scene that should be interesting.
The action is mediocre, despite having samurai, cowboys, an army of “ghosts”, and of course Nicolas Cage. The execution is too serious and tame for a film that promises b-movie-style madness. The script is also responsible. Disorganized utterances without direction can (even should) be tolerated in a treat like this, but not with a braked wildness. Prisoners of the Ghostland is still unique, especially in the visual realm, but the collaboration of Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage shouldn’t be this harmonious. His first act seems to have succeeded in fulfilling that promise. Even from the early minutes, when Cage, the nameless hero who would later be called “Hero”, robbed the bank with Psycho (Nick Cassavetes). All sides of the bank are white, while the employees wear uniforms of different colors. Cage entered, brandished a gun, then shouted, “Banzai!”. Movie Review