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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Prisoners Of The Ghostland

Title: Prisoners of the Ghostland

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
LISA: Dad, what's a Muppet?
HOMER: Well, it's not quite a mop and it's not quite a puppet... but man (laughs). So to answer your question, I don't know.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Unsuccessful bank robber gets an offer he — and his scrotum — can't refuse.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 Hollywood Montroses out of 5.

Tagline: "The wildest movie I've ever made." - Nicolas Cage

Better Tagline: "Apparently Cage never watched Drive Angry."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Following a botched heist, Hero (Nicolas Cage) is tasked by the Governor (Bill Moseley) with bringing back the Gov's daughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella), who's disappeared into a mystical realm.
"Critical" Analysis: On its face, combining the talents of Nicolas Cage (Color Out Of Space, Mandy) and eccentric Japanese director Sion Sono (The Hate Trilogy, Love Exposure) would seem like the recipe for something epically bizarre. Prisoners of the Ghostland does try to meet those expectations, but while distinctly weird, it ultimately fails to surpass either dude's gnarliest work.

Things start off promisingly enough (depending on your definition), with the aforementioned bank robbery. It's not immediately clear who's responsible for things going awry, Hero or his partner "Psycho," but you can probably guess. Hero finds himself at the mercy of a "frontier" town consisting mostly of Western storefronts and the izakaya from Yojimbo.

With Sono, it's sometimes hard to know what he's taking seriously and what's outlandish for its own sake, especially with Joseph Trapanese's deadpan score looming over everything. Cage, for his part, mostly plays it straight, even kitted out in a leather suit with explosive charges sewn at his throat, elbows, and "testicules."

He's also the subject of a prophecy, of course. And while Bernice is indeed a prisoner of ghosts, the ghosts are prisoners themselves (courtesy of Sono's trademark nuclear horror subplot). Hero ends up finding Bernice with ridiculous ease, but that only marks the beginning of his troubles.

Hero — who's more of an anti-hero, but that's probably the point — drifts in and out of consciousness during his quest (courtesy on one notable occasion of one of his testicle bombs going off in delightfully graphic fashion). He's reunited with Psycho, his presumed dead partner in crime (played by Nick Cassavetes ... Face/Off reunion!), and we learn the truth behind the bank robbery that landed Hero on the Governor's bad side.

There's also a side story involving the Governor's enforcer Yasujiro (Tak Sakaguchi) that's a delightful prelude to a climactic (albeit reluctant) fight between his character and Cage's stunt double Hero. It's where Prisoners truly comes alive, since it finally lets Boutella cut loose.

But for all the influences — and boy howdy, are there a ton; everything from The A-Team to Kurosawa to the Road Warrior to Mannequin 2: On the Move — the end result is surprisingly tame. Maybe the expectations of "Cage+Sono" were too much, or maybe we just wanted to see more of the bat-shittery of Cage's IRS payoff roles.

Then again, if the one thing missing in your life is seeing Nicolas Cage call a group of post-apocalyptic survivors a "bunch of bitches" while lamenting his lost ball, this is the movie for you. There's plenty of Sono's imprint on this, and Cage is game for anything, but it's ultimately a mild recommend, at best.

Prisoners of the Ghostland is in theaters and streaming on demand today.