Prisoners of the Ghostland is a gonzo mash-up of Japanese Samurai dystopia mixed with a little sprinkle of Americana western.
The story takes place in Japan in the not-too-distant future, where a dodgy Governor presides over a sketchy little place called Samurai Town. After one of his “granddaughters”, Bernice, goes missing in a nasty region known as Ghostland, the Governor releases arch-criminal Hero (played by Nicolas Cage) and enlists his help to go into the Ghostland and bring back Bernice. Hero is a former bank robber imprisoned after a bungled robbery went awry and a score of innocent people were murdered. Suffice to say, he has a reputation as one of the worst and most deplorable felons around.
Hero is paraded in front of the town, given his marching orders and then dressed in a leather all-in-one suit which is laden with explosives in case he tries to escape or deviate from the Governor’s plan in any way. Hero then sets off for the Ghostland and begins his search for Bernice.
Once there, he manages to locate Bernice and returns with her to Samurai Town. Then there is a showdown in which Hero, Bernice and the other town subjects face off against the Governor and his army of goons. And that is pretty much that!
This is, quite frankly, one of the worst films I have ever seen.
When I watched the trailer for Prisoners of the Ghostland with my More Movies partner in crime, I thought it looked pretty interesting. I have always been a fan of Nicolas Cage, and I love the fact that he makes bold choices in deciding what movies to act in. But this also means that some of his choices are a little bit dubious, and I’m afraid to say this is the worst film I’ve ever seen him in.
Wait, what?! Worse than National Treasure – Book Of Secrets (2007)? Yes. Worse than The Wickerman (2006) remake. Hell yes! Worse than Mandy (2018)!? I actually liked Mandy! Check out my review for it here.
I don’t know where to start in relaying to you how chronically atrocious this movie is!
Ok, ok.. let’s start at the beginning. The very first scene is actually quite interesting. We open with a bank robbery in which Cage and none other than Nick Cassavetes burst into a Japanese bank wielding guns and screaming orders at the customers and the tellers. This scene is beautifully shot with some tasty camera work, a gorgeous colour palette and decent sound design.
At this point, I was thinking, ok… we might be in for something special here.
I was wrong. VERY wrong.
From here on in this movie tanked downwards and picked up speed, descending into a pantomime of farcical proportions that even the most forgiving mind would find it difficult to concentrate on, never mind enjoy.
The script was cringingly awkward and bland. This impacted the performances, which were kitsch at best, and frankly amateurish at worst. In addition, the camera work and mise en scene seemed to take off in an awful neophyte direction where nobody in front of or behind the camera seemed to know what was going on or what they were supposed to be doing.
It seems they were going for some sort of post-apocalyptic, nightmarish landscape akin to something like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) or Blade Runner (1982). But it came off like somebody aping Time Bandits (1981), but without the quality direction or focussed performances. The general production just seemed cheap.
The plot is incredibly unoriginal and juvenile. Very little happens beyond what I have already described. In addition, the fight scenes were poorly choreographed and bumbling, to the point of becoming embarrassing to watch.
What the hell was Nicolas Cage thinking about when he got involved in this one?
The only person to blame for this train wreck of a movie is the director. Admittedly, I haven’t seen any of Sono’s previous work, but I’m aware he has directed many films in his native Japan. But I couldn’t get into this one. Above all else, it was boring, and if this film is a taste of what he has done previously, then you can forget it, I’m just not interested.
It’s fair enough when a film is so bad it’s good, and you can glean some sort of basic enjoyment out of the mess. But Prisoners of the Ghostland was not one of these movies. It’s just plain old bad. So don’t waste your money. I’m not going to waste any more of your time or mine by saying anything else about this pile of poop. You would have a better time watching the paint dry.
Well, that’s our review of Prisoners of the Ghostland
Did you enjoy Prisoners of the Ghostland? What did you think of our review? Let us know in the comments!
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