A picture of Jerome F. Davies' original Bandersnatch manuscript.
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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is wonderfully frustrating and will probably lead you to wonder who is truly being controlled? You or Stefan?


Director(s) David Slade
Written By Charles Booker
Date Released 12/28/2018
Genre(s) Adventure, Action, Mystery
Good If You Like Choose Your Own Adventure Games

Frustration

Noted Cast
Stefan Fionn Whitehead
Thankur Asim Chaudhry
Dad Craig Parkinson
Dr. Haynes (Therapist) Alice Lowe
Colin Will Poulter
Pearl Kayra Evelyn
Mum Fleur Keith

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch‘s Plot Summary (Some Endings on 2nd Page)

The basis of the movie, or game, is you are Stefan, a 19 year old who, in 1984, is trying to make the game Bandersnatch based off a book of the same name. It’s a book that is one of the handful of mementos Stefan’s mother left behind before she died, and while you aren’t necessarily making the game in her honor, you have developed quite the obsession with it. Thus leading you to take a meeting with one of the heads of Tuckersoft, Thankur, to try to get the game produced.

From there, everything is your decision. Of which you may feel you more often choose wrong more than right.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Does an ending exist where you get five stars for your game and don’t kill your dad?
  2. Why couldn’t we use the back button to undo decisions (think Life is Strange: Season 1)? We can fast forward, which is especially useful if you re-watch the film, to get to the next decision.
  3. Considering how the movie pushes you sometimes, like with having Stefan talk about his mother with Dr. Haynes, and some of the glitches we see when you pick some decisions, is there a definitive story that is intended to be followed? Perhaps a mainline story?

Highlights

This Film Has Replay Value (I Watched It Twice So Far)

Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) asking for a sign and you giving him one.
Stefan (Fionn Whitehead): Come on. If there’s someone there, just give me a sign.

Most movies, Netflix or otherwise, don’t give you much of a reason to re-watch. After all, everything is set in stone, you have no control, the writer made every decision there is. Bandersnatch gives you control and, honestly, it leaves you unsure what to do with it. Especially since it seems every decision is a bad one and you can only do the best that you can. Which, considering Stefan isn’t all there, the best you can is not committing murder or attempting not to let someone die.

This process, which the film loops you through a few times, maybe on a counter, makes it so you want to explore every decision over and over again. Especially as you realize you barely scraped the surface of the different endings Stefan can have.

On The Fence

The Movie Is Going To Be The Most Frustrating Thing You’ve Done In A While

From what it appears, there is no real good ending. There are entertaining endings and one which would allow you to have a 5-star game rating. Perhaps, in Black Mirror’s world, that is the perfect ending. However, if you look at this as you would your average video game, where you can navigate to an ending where everyone lives, you get the 5 star rated release, and everything is happily ever after? All I can say is you are going to be frustrated and wonder if Stefan is being controlled through Netflix or is Netflix controlling you?

It Is More So An Experiment Than A Well Told Story

You making the decision to drive Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) crazier or not.

Before Telltale Games got shut down, they were working on something similar to this, with Netflix, for Stranger Things. So, with the release of Bandersnatch comes the idea that we’re being tested to see what our response would be. After all, choose your own adventure movies and shows are in short supply and with everyone trying to become the new Netflix they naturally have to find something to stand out. So what better way than hand some of the control over to the viewer?

Now, let’s note this was tested before this movie. As pointed out in this USA Today article, from more than a year ago, Puss In Boots acted as a pilot for this sort of things (there is also a Minecraft choose your own adventure). However, a kids game vs. adults is a whole different thing. Especially since, even in the video game world, choose your own adventures aren’t made in masse and games having multiple endings is beneficial but can also lead to a huge backlash.

Which isn’t to say there will be with this movie. However, I must note the thrill of making decisions compensates for a story which is, eh. Stefan’s journey into madness, aided by Colin messing with your head, is very much in Black Mirror fashion but isn’t necessarily the best Black Mirror story in the franchise. It fits the purpose of what this is supposed to do, but considering the hype the series has had, looking at this strictly from a storytelling point, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) | Available on Netflix

Your mom happy you found your rabbit.
Mum: Fleur Keith

The main reason to watch/ play Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is for Netflix, and other platforms, is to create a demand. For while the story is good enough for the purpose, imagine what could come about in a couple of years? Have you ever been frustrated with the decisions made in a drama, mystery or horror movie? Well, you can decide what happens. How about comedies? Are you more into slapstick comedy than vulgarity? All you got to do is mold the lead the way you want.

Honestly, the possibilities are endless. There just needs to be an interest shown for the investment. Which is honestly the main reason this is being labeled positive. Not because of the story or performances, it’s just to see more like this which, taking note of the feedback from this production, are better, maybe have more branching stories, and possible endings that don’t make you feel like a f*** up.


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1 COMMENT

  1. The therapist said it best. If this is entertainment, shouldn’t they have made it more interesting? Which was of course followed by the most entertaining scene in the episode.

    The white rabbit (Donnie Darko) ending was a bit interesting too, though ultimately unfulfilling.

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