‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ Review

Photo taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror:_Bandersnatch

Photo taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror:_Bandersnatch

Pramod Mamilapalli, layout editor

On December 28, 2018, Netflix released a interactive movie titled ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,’ the biggest step in its move toward interactive entertainment, which is part of the hit Netflix series,’Black Mirror.’ ‘Bandersnatch’ allowed users to choose the course of the story by selecting one of two choices within ten seconds.

The film follows a young programer named Stefan Butler, who lives in 1984 England. He has been designing a video game based on a book titled “Bandersnatch,” a choose-your-own-adventure story, with the hope that the game will become big one day. Butler is given a choice to accept or reject an offer to work in collaboration with video game company Tuckersoft (home to famous video game designer Colin Ritman). The viewer gets to decide whether to work there or not. If the viewer chooses Stefan to accept the offer, Colin informs him that he chose the “wrong path”. Eventually (SPOILER ALERT!), we find out that it is the wrong path because the game was rushed, due to a tight deadline, and fails miserably in ratings. This is where the story ends, or so we think. Netflix gives you the option to go back in time and change your choice. Similar scenarios are scattered throughout the film, with each choice leading to a different ending.

While the development of “Banderstanch” is the main story, viewers also get to know more about Stefan on a personal level. In the first few minutes of the film, we learn that Stefan has a shaky relationship with his father. We later find out that this is due to the fact that his mother passed away in a train accident and Stefhan blames her death on both himself and his father. As a result of this tragedy, Stefan sees a therapist who encourages him to discuss his feelings, which he is very hesitant about. His relationship with Colin, the game designer, is also a strange one. At some point in the film, Stefan visits Colin’s house, while they are there, Colin attempts to convince Stefan that there are secret government mind-control programs, alternate timelines, and different paths – which, ironically, is true.

‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ faced quite a few negative reactions, with many saying that the plot was weak and that the concept of a choose-your-own-adventure style film was nothing new and would’ve been cool in the ’90s. On top of that, Netflix was faced with a $25 million trademark lawsuit involving Vermont-based company Chooseco, the publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels, which claimed Netflix violated its trademark. However, on a positive note, many people said that the film was very well made and had a nostalgic feeling to it that brought older viewers back to their childhood. Many viewers also appreciated Netflix for taking a different approach in film-making and hope that more films will be created in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style.