Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Prisoners of the Ghostland Review: A Japanese and Western Nic Cage Fever Dream

Nicolas Cage	Nicolas Cage	...	Hero Sofia Boutella	Sofia Boutella	...	Bernice Nick Cassavetes	Nick Cassavetes	...	Psycho Bill Moseley	Bill Moseley	...	The Governor Narisa Suzuki	Narisa Suzuki		 Tak Sakaguchi	Tak Sakaguchi	...	Yasujiro Grace Santos	Grace Santos	...	Angel Canon Nawata	Canon Nawata	...	Nancy Takato Yonemoto	Takato Yonemoto	...	Takato Jeffrey Rowe	Jeffrey Rowe	...	Gunman Jai West	Jai West	...	Jai Saki Ohwada	Saki Ohwada	...	banker Charles Glover	Charles Glover	...	Enoch Shin Shimizu	Shin Shimizu	...	Shin Yurino	Yurino	...	Geisha & Ghost of the Banker Matthew Chozick	Matthew Chozick	...	Matthew Lorena Kotô	Lorena Kotô	...	Stella Yuzuka Nakaya	Yuzuka Nakaya

Release date: September 17, 2021
Running time: 101 minutes
Director: Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell)
Writers: Aaron Hendry and Rexa Sixo Safai (Western Wonderland)
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Hero), Sofia Boutella (Bernice), Nick Cassavetes (Psycho), Bill Moseley (The Governor), Tak Sakaguchi (Yasujiro) and Yuzuka Nakaya (Suzi)

Prisoners of the Ghostland is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber (Cage) is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor (Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) has gone missing. The Governor offers the prisoner his freedom in exchange for retrieving the runaway. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within three days, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman—and his own path to redemption.

Directed by  Sion Sono	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Aaron Hendry	...	(written by) Reza Sixo Safai	...	(screenplay)
Prisoners of the Ghostland is a strange film and you will either love it or hate it.  It has a mix of classic Japanese and Western tropes and film styles with an overarching an apocalyptic vibe.  It feels like a dreamlike wild west Japanese film; and yes that is exactly how I meant to describe it.  Everything is overexaggerated and overdelivered, from the serious scenes to the crazy scenes.  The colors, the locales, and the characters are all ramped up.  And when the film gets going, this is emphasized more.  Cage goes to several areas on his journey and they are all very different looking. You have the traditional Japanese / Wild West Samurai Town, a more apocalyptic town, and several stops along the way.  And it is not just the film's style that shows a blend of influences; the music also blends traditional Japanese music with spaghetti western music to form something unique.  This film is like if fallout and borderlands had a baby that was raised by an insane Japanese person.

And so with the good of this film's insanity also comes a convoluted story.  I think I need to watch this again as some of the concepts were tough to follow, and the film has a slightly out of order storytelling that is difficult at the start.  And some of the characters are weird to be weird.  The effects are generally fine except for the violence scenes, which are not distracting but do feel like an older film style.  Exploding packs of blood are common for gunshots and some characters are extremely bad shots until they land the killing blow, which is also overemphasized.  And the movie also has some strange cuts during the action scenes, possibly for budgetary reasons.  The most noticeable is during an odd car crash where the film cuts away during the actual crash.  This is a hallmark of budgetary constraints, yet the film itself does not have an overall budget feel.  

But despite all the strangeness, the difficult to follow story, and some of the over the top characters, what I kept coming back to was this film's unique style.  It just feels like a modern mashup of older films with a very unique spin on it; something that you don't see in other films.  I loved the craziness and the bright colors, the melding of Japanese and Western styles, and seeing Nic Cage back in a more insane role.  

Prisoners of the Ghostland is pure insanity, with a cinema blend of Japanese, spaghetti western, and apocalyptic influences into a Nic Cage fever dream of violence and style.

Watch it.

Teruaki Ogawa		 Chiho Fujii	Chiho Fujii	...	Chimera Servant Tatsuhiro Yamaoka	Tatsuhiro Yamaoka		 Christina Virzi	Christina Virzi	...	Crystal Produced by  Nate Bolotin	...	producer Brian David Cange	...	line producer: USA Lauren Craig	...	associate producer Michael Mendelsohn	...	producer Ko Mori	...	producer (as Kô Mori) Natalie Perrotta	...	executive producer Laura Rister	...	producer Yûji Sadai	...	executive producer Reza Sixo Safai	...	producer Nick Spicer	...	executive producer Aram Tertzakian	...	executive producer Toyoyuki Yokohama	...	executive producer
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Prisoners of the Ghostland is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on September 17, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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