Set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town where a ruthless bank robber is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor, whose adopted granddaughter Bernice 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.
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.
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