Michelle Reynolds, Staff Writer
“Choose Your Own Adventure” was one of the most popular children’s book series during the 1980s and 1990s, selling more than 250 million copies. Deciding to popularize on this cult following, Netflix released “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” an interactive movie. Dec. 28, viewers became participants as they decided what the main character will do next. Is revamping this format for streaming platforms the way of the future?
Bandersnatch is about a young programmer, played by Stefan Butler, who starts to question reality when he adapts a mad writer’s fantasy novel into a video game. Overall this movie was interesting, whether interactive or not. Though dreary and slow at the beginning, it was captivating to witness Stefan’s slow descent into madness. The plot was original, dark but not too heavy, and intelligent. A particular highlight of this movie was the dialogue. It was perfectly delivered by the cast and was beautifully written. However, while a well-made movie, the substance felt thin.
When hearing that “Bandersnatch” is interactive, the instant reaction is “that is awesome!” But do watchers really want to be involved with what happens in the plot? While some are content just passively watching, the act of being involved made me stop and think more than I would if I hadn’t been involved. “Bandersnatch” is not another movie for the slush pile – it actually makes you contemplate. Every choice you make impacts your story, from little choices like what type of cereal to have, to if you should accept a job or not. Just like real life. However, if you weren’t happy with your decision in the show, you can go back and discover another path.
With over five hours of footage to discover and up to 10 potential endings, you will find yourself going deeper into the rabbit hole that is all the alternative endings of “Bandersnatch.”
If you have time to spare, it is recommended to explore the world of “Bandersnatch.” For the most part, each ending is satisfying. While some endings have slight variations, if you change a much earlier decision, the endings can be completely different. Every time you go back, you are exposed to new options and sometimes you’ll have no idea where it will lead. Really, “Bandersnatch” can be compared to a spider making a web – complex, yet somehow cohesive.
This isn’t the first interactive Netflix episode, as they have been experimenting with interactive content since early 2017 and have released four other interactive movies: “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile,” “Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout,” and “Minecraft: Story Mode.” However, the previous movies were all animated and meant primarily for kids. “Bandersnatch” is Netflix’s first big success formatted for an older audience.
With “Bandersnatch” being a hit, interactive content being harder to pirate, and an increase in viewer participation, Netflix will definitely be expanding their interactive content selection. I’m excited to see what Netflix creates next in regards to this new format, but in the meantime, “Bandersnatch” is a great way to dip your toes into the interactive content world.