Directed by Sion Sono and starring Nicolas Cage,Prisoners of the Ghostland takes a neo-noir style approach to the Asian-American western/epic. Cage plays a criminal who must win back his life by rescuing the governor's daughter from the apocalyptic Ghostland. A mixture of the old American west and samurai Japanese culture films, Prisoners of the Ghostland presents a unique film experience….in what way, though?
Unexpected: A strength of Ghostland is the costume design. Mixing the styles of old John Wayne and Bruce Lee movies is incredibly satisfying. In addition to that combination, there's a heavy Mad Max appeal to character design, as well as vehicle interpretation. Characters can be identified by class and significance once their costume design is recognized by the audience. This creates one element of joy when watching the film. That’s one thing.
And Nothing Else:Ghostland is a chore to get through. Every minute in this story takes forever. I found myself looking at my watch, far too often. There is not a single moment of enjoyable acting. The supporting cast is stiff. At first, the acting felt like a gimmick; a purposeful display of comedy. However, it never stopped. Perhaps Sono was playing on those old western tropes, but the execution was nothing like we’ve seen of other recent, successful westerns. Even if Sono was successful in the delivery, it is to the fault of the screenwriter for producing such a poor story and pacing; which was also ridden with plot holes.
Nic:Sadly, something needs to be said about Nic Cage. It's my understanding of recent years that Cage takes on similar types of roles in these types of films — masculine, boring tough guys with no relatability set in movies with no real purpose. It has been a long time since his relevance of the 90s and stealing the Declaration of Independence. From me to you, hang it up, Nic. Please.
Prisoners of the Ghostland is a mistake of a movie that, unfortunately, will be watched by a select number of poor souls. Sion Sono ruined what could've been a unique amalgam of genres.