Blu-ray Review “Prisoners of the Ghostland”

Director: ‎Sion Sono
Run time: ‎1 hour and 42 minutes
Release date: November 16, 2021
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Bill Moseley, Nick Cassavetes, Tak Sakaguchi
Studio: Image Entertainment

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

When I see Nicolas Cage coming up in a movie, I am first in line with my money out! “Prisoners of the Ghostland” was no different, especially with the film being branded with Cage’s quote “The wildest movie I’ve ever made”. My expectations were wicked high. Damn, what a let down. If you want to see Cage’s “wildest movie” that definitely has to be “Mandy” from 2018. Hands down, bat shit crazy! This film tries way to hard and fails on nearly every turn.

The film is directed by this (self-proclaimed) acclaimed Japanese director, Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell), I have never seen any of his films and after this I want to keep it that way. Other than Nicolas Cage (Mandy) there isn’t any talent for him to work with. Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Franchise), Tak Sakaguchi (Tokyo Tribe) and Yuzuka Nakaya (The Forest of Love) also co-star. Kudos do need to go to Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy, The Greatest Showman), who composed the original score.

Official Premise: 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.

As a Nicolas Cage hardcore fan, I am obliged to see all of his films and if you are in the same boat as me, I know you are going to at least be curious about this film. But personally, I wouldn’t purchase this Blu-ray. I would though try and purchase the separately-available 4K/Blu-ray Steelbook. That’s just my opinion. In terms of a Blu-ray, this film does have a 1080p presentation (but it would look better in 4K) and a solid DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Sadly, there is only one quick featurette, The Making of Prisoners of the Ghostland, included on this release.

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND – Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook on November 16, 2021

LOS ANGELES, (October 14, 2021) – RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, will release the action-adventure thriller PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook on November 16, 2021. The film made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

<>Directed by the acclaimed Japanese director, Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell), the film was written by Aaron Hendry and Rexa Sixo Safai (Western Wonderland). The film stars Nicolas Cage (Mandy), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Franchise), Tak Sakaguchi (Tokyo Tribe) and Yuzuka Nakaya (The Forest of Love). Joseph Trapanese (Tron: Legacy, The Raid: Redemption, The Greatest Showman) composed the original score. The DVD will be available for an SRP of $29.96, the Blu-ray for an SRP of $29.97 and the 4K UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook for an SRP of $35.97.

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.

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND DVD, Blu-ray and UHD/Blu-ray SteelBook includes the bonus feature, “The Making of Prisoners of the Ghostland.”


RLJE Films’ recent and upcoming features include the critically acclaimed horror film The Dark And The Wicked from director Bryan Bertino; David Oyelowo’s directorial debut The Water Man; the intense PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND starring Elijah Wood and Luke Kirby from director Amber Sealey; and Sion Sono’s 2021 Sundance Film Festival premiere Prisoners of the Ghostland starring Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella. <about:blank>


AMC Networks is a global entertainment company known for its popular and critically-acclaimed content. Its portfolio of brands includes AMC, BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, IFC Films, and a number of fast-growing streaming services, including the AMC+ premium streaming bundle, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK. AMC Studios, the Company’s in-house studio, production and distribution operation, is behind award-winning owned series and franchises, including The Walking Dead, the highest-rated series in cable history. The Company also operates AMC Networks International, its international programming business, and 25/7 Media, its production services business.

Denis Villenueve talks about directing “Prisoners”

If you’re familiar with director Denis Villenueve’s name it’s probably for his Academy Award and BAFTA nominated film, “Incendies.” The film also earned him two Genie Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars) for best screenplay and director as well as taking home the award as the Best Picture of 2011. I mention this because, trust me, once his new film, “Prisoners,” opens EVERYONE is going to know his name.
On Friday, September 20, the Canadian-born filmmaker unveils his first Hollywood film, the crime-thriller “Prisoners,” starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. To call it the best film of its kind in a decade is…well, it’s pretty damn accurate. While promoting his new film Mr. Villenueve took the time to talk to Media Mikes about his new film, the power of Jake Gyllenhaal and his upcoming plans to relax.

Mike Smith: What attracted you to “Prisoners?”
Denis Villenueve: I think if you asked all the actors and producers the same question they would give you my answer. It was an incredibly strong screenplay. It has a strong, dramatic structure that was really compelling and entertaining from a thriller point of view. It said so many sad, yet accurate, things about our society and I felt those topics…the violence…the torture…I was inspired by them. It told about things that I felt were meaningful. I hope that as a director I was able to bring about a film to be inspired by.

MS: Both Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal reveal a dark side that we, as an audience, have never really seen them expose before. Hugh’s been “Wolverine-angry” but NEVER like this. How were you able to get them to dig so deep for these performances?
DV: First of all, it all starts with the actors. I think Hugh agreed to do the part because ….sometimes artists find that they are confined to a bubble. Everyone either thinks you’re a nice guy or the Wolverine! (laughs) He was confined to this bubble but I felt he was a very powerful actor. An actor that is often underused…that doesn’t get to reach his full potential. And I felt that he was ready to get out of that bubble. He really wanted to explore the really dark spectrum of his art. And he was willing to go there. I didn’t have to push him there. He was very committed. He read the screenplay and knew where he needed to go. He trusted me to take him there. Hugh was very easy to direct. I felt he needed a friend to work with him in that darkness and that’s how I felt.

MS: You earned an Oscar and a BAFTA nomination for your film “Incendies.” I’m sure it was a proud moment for you, personally but was it made even better because your film had been the one chosen to represent your country?
DV: I really tried to not let that effect me. What I try to keep in mind is my relationship to the cinema. As a filmmaker I try to concentrate on what I learned on my last project and what I will learn on my next project. I took the Academy Awards as a very nice compliment. It was a very nice experience but I knew that the next day I had to return to my humility and return both feet to the ground.

MS: You first worked with Jake Gyllenhaal on the film “Enemy,” which will open later this year. Was the rapport you built with him on this film one of the reasons you cast him in “Prisoners?”
DV: “Enemy” was an art-house experiment that allowed me to spend a lot of time with an actor. I wanted to build a relationship with an actor. I had built creative relationships with cinematographers…with production designers and screenwriters…but I had never felt like I was sharing cinema with an actor. The actors I had worked with before were like comets. They were like shooting stars that came in front of the camera and then went away just as quickly. I never really had the chance to explore…to spend time with an actor. I felt that the story of “Enemy”…about a man seeing himself…was perfect. I wanted to explore some things about reality. It was the perfect opportunity to have this experience with an actor. Jake agreed to come on board for that experience and we spent months working together…sharing cinema together. We became very close friends. As I was doing “Enemy” I was casting “Prisoners” and I told Jake that I would like to work with him again and I thought he would be perfect for the cop. He knew about the script and immediately said yes. That’s the one thing I love about cinema…the relationships. The creative relationships that you can build over time. It’s a big privilege for me to have built that relationship with Jake.

MS: It’s obvious that he trusts you as a director. I’m an admirer of his but I NEVER expected a performance like this out of Jake Gyllenhaal.
DV: Jake is a strong actor. He was born in cinema. He began as a kid…then a teenager and now he’s a man. And I think as a man…as an adult…he is going to surprise us in the upcoming years. I think his best performances are in front of him. I was deeply inspired by Jake.

MS: Are you working on anything new?
DV: (laughs) I made two movies in a row. I have not been home in eighteen months. I need to go back to Montreal…I need to be with my family for a few weeks. I have two movies on the table right now and I have to choose which one I want to do first. But first I need to sleep for a week! (laughs)

Film Review “Prisoners”

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano
Directed by: Denis Villenueve
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hours 23 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Keller Dover (Jackman) is a hard working family man. He does his best to provide for his family: wife Grace (Maria Bello), son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and young daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich). He does his best to protect his family as any father would. This Thanksgiving they are visiting their neighbors, Franklin and Nancy Birch (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis), and their children. Anna and little Joy Birch (Kyla Drew Simmons) ask if they can go to the Dover home. Keller tells them to make sure they take one of the older kids with them. Lesson one, kids: always listen to your parents.

Directed with the skill of a master, “Prisoners” is the best thriller to come down the pike in a decade. The credit here is three way. First, an almost flawless first time original screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski, whose only other writing credit was for his adaptation of the Icelandic film that became the Mark Wahlberg hit “Contraband.” Second, the outstanding direction of Canadian filmmaker Villenueve. Villenueve, an Academy Award and BAFTA nominee for his 2011 film “Incendies,” delivers one of the greatest Hollywood debuts I can remember in recent history. Thirdly, a cast of past Oscar nominees and winners that deliver some of the best work of their careers.

Jackman, an Oscar nominee last year for “Les Miserables,” digs deep into the darkest portion of his soul in order to give Keller both the rage that you fear and compassion that you admire. When the police arrest, and then release, a man they suspect of the crime (Paul Dano), Keller and Franklin abduct him and keep him prisoner, beating the hell out of him in the hopes that he’ll tell them where the girls are. On the side of law and order is detective Loki (Gyllenhaal), a man with obvious demons of his own. His neck covered in a tattoo that resembles a badge and his face a non-stop series of tics, Gyllenhaal gives the performance of a career here. He and Jackman are matched by Dano (“There Will Be Blood”) as a quiet kid that may or may not know the girls whereabouts. As the neighbors who are also mourning the disappearance of a child, former Oscar nominees Howard and Davis display a quiet dignity that you would expect from a couple under those circumstances. As the hunt for the girls continue Keller becomes less and less patient with his captive, doing whatever he feels is necessary to get the answers he requires.

Villenueve crafts and molds the story into a thing of beauty. His pacing is brilliant, giving the audience just enough clues to keep them guessing at every twist and turn. Is Dano the man responsible? Or is he just the type of misunderstood, quiet young man whose very reluctance to speak paints him with the brush of guilt? You’ll have to see the movie and learn those answers for yourself?


Related Content

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Preview for ‘Prisoners’ Episode

The battle for Mon Calamari escalates in the conclusion to an epic Star Wars: The Clone Wars three-part story arc

In “Prisoners,” the must-see conclusion to the epic two-part season opener of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, all appears lost as the Republic army and its allies the Gungans have been captured by Riff Tamson and his seemingly invincible Karkarodon forces. The future looks as murky as the turbulent undersea battlefields of Mon Calamari, but there still are holdouts. Now all depends on Ahsoka Tano helping young Prince Lee-Char find the internal strength to unite the fractured races of his planet to drive out the Separatist invaders in a pulse-pounding battle airing at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, September 23rd on Cartoon Network.