Bandersnatch trades story quality for novelty

Bandersnatch is Netflix’s new choose your own adventure movie, a spin off of their hit series Black Mirror. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like open-ended endings and craves a resolution, this movie isn’t for you.

Black Mirror is a Netflix original series that analyzes the effects of technology on human society through individual episodes taking place in the future. Unlike most Black Mirror episodes, Bandersnatch is set in the past, specifically the 1980s. It follows a young man, Stefan, with the dream of programming a computer game based off of his favorite book, “Bandersnatch.” His video game of the same name is a choose your own adventure game.

I was incredibly excited when I first heard about the movie. I love the thought-provoking nature of Black Mirror episodes and the interactive aspect sounded intriguing.This made the end result even more disappointing.

The watcher makes their first choice early on in the movie when they choose which kind of cereal Stefan will eat for breakfast. The decisions gradually become more intense and more impactful, eventually coming to a choice between life and death. There are multiple endings that the watcher can end up with, each less interesting than the first.

The movie can take as long as the watcher chooses, you can even go back into the past to make different decisions. The minimum amount of time it takes to finish the movie is about an hour and half, but it can last up to five hours if you choose to find all of the endings. Each ending includes a review on Stefan’s game, giving watchers a way to gauge the success of their choices.

About halfway through the movie I realized how pointless the entire endeavor was. Although the decision making was fun, the movie lacked the social commentary aspect that viewers have come to expect from Black Mirror. The best part of the movie was the philosophical questions that it raised regarding free will. However, even this part is tackled with the immaturity and shallow thinking that would be expected of a high school student, not a professional filmmaker.

I suppose if you enjoy spending hours clicking through choices just to watch one more minute of footage, then this movie is great.

Overall the movie is entertaining in the moment but leaves the viewer feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

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