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Review: Nick Cage’s latest disaster features disturbing scenes

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Prisoners of Ghost Country

RLJE Movies

Looking for the next big movie to simultaneously provoke feelings of loathing and boredom? Look no further than “Prisoners of Ghost Country”.

“Prisoners of the Phantom Country” is an action-horror thriller movie directed by Sion Sono that tells the story of a criminal named Hero (Nicholas Cage) who is forced by the Governor (Bill Moseley) – the most powerful man from Samurai Town, Japan – to bring back her missing granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella). Dressed in a suit of explosive devices strategically placed to ensure his cooperation, Hero scours the radioactive wastelands to save his life and gain his freedom. Despite an unusual premise, “Prisoners of Ghostlands” offers little real substance to keep audiences engaged.

In a world that exists in the aftermath of a nuclear power plant disaster and is riddled with class struggles, it’s clear that Sono is trying to get the public to have an internal dialogue on these topics. Unfortunately, the execution of this plot is disjunctive, poorly delivered, and the dialogues lack any coherent tone. Cage’s performance alone pulls audiences out of the film’s atmosphere as each line seems to come from a completely different character. The film unsuccessfully draws the line between unintentional satire and drama.

Much of the film is badly executed. The greatest source of blood is the combination of explosives Hero wears. The explosives explode when they sense that a danger is inflicted on a woman, to prevent her from violently assaulting Bernice. There are several scenes where the audience watches Hero become more brutally disfigured from the explosives. The most unsettling and unsettling of these is when Hero is violently aroused by Bernice, causing one of the explosive devices located in his lower regions to explode in graphic and disturbing detail. This scene doesn’t act as a hindrance for Hero, which makes it even more insane. Other deeply upsetting scenes include the use of unnecessary violence against women as nothing more than a dramatic time filler and lazy action sequences.

It’s easy to create fully formed female characters. The history of cinema shows that movies do it all the time for male characters. So the fact that the female characters in “Prisoners of the Ghostlands” have no motives, goals, obstacles, agency, or arcs is more than disappointing. Bernice’s motivations, goals, and characterization are non-existent. Its sole purpose is to be the inaccessible object for the male protagonist to pursue.

While the female characters are insignificant, the male characters aren’t much better. Hero and the Governor are both violent misogynists driven by the lazy performances of the actors. The world of “Prisoners of the Ghostlands” has endless possibilities for creating conflict throughout the storyline. Still, Sono rarely commits to it and instead spends screen time focusing on lazily crafted characters and the barely propelling plot about Hero Bernice’s return to Governor.

At the end of the film, audiences are left to simmer in glorification of Cage’s chauvinistic character instead of being left with a deep reflection on societal issues. Hero is neither a flawed protagonist nor a compelling anti-hero. He cares little for the well-being of others and has a history of violence against women. When Hero interacts with the characters, he does not respond, his face is expressionless. Instead of having an arc, the audience can watch Hero save the day and walk away.

“Prisoners of the Ghostlands” is inconsistent and, despite promising material, is poorly executed. Other than teasing audiences on a meaningless journey that attempts to convey themes of inequality, “Prisoners of Ghostlands” offers nothing worth watching.


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