Black MIRROR: Bandersnatch is the latest Netflix standalone film of the franchise which is path breaking in the sense that it gives the viewer the sense of control on a medium of which she was only a mere spectator so far. The viewer is practically impersonating the lead character Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) and taking life altering decisions on his behalf as the film progresses, with the film giving you multiple interactive options at various points of the story to choose and proceed. Some of the choices just aid you to warm up and settle down and have no material impact, while a few lead to a path with a practical dead end, and then there are choices that completely alter the course of action and take you to various alternative end depending on the combo of selects. Its an excellent idea on paper, and you cannot help appreciate the thinking that series creator and writer Charlie Brooker and director David Slade bring to the table. For all we know, this might be a stepping stone for interactive digital entertainment and its possible future in days to come.
The concept is intriguing, the thinking has its merit, but unfortunately the plot isn’t rich enough to bind the viewer and transport her to the isolated world of Stefan and its complexities. The story isn’t interesting or involving enough, the emotions and hence the decision points pretty much remain on the surface, and while you are navigating through the choices along a specific path, you aren’t so much haunted by what might have happened had you selected another option you left behind. That most of the alternative ends also don’t vary significantly in syntax and colour from each other (barring a few), also doesn’t add any additional wow factor to the experience.
At the end, it turned up as a much ado about nothing experience for me. Its one thing when a brand new dish is introduced to you cooked with all exotic spices and very innovative cooking procedures, but its a completely different thing if all the experimentation is just restricted to the process but doesn’t add much to the flavours, taste and the sensory experience. Bandersnatch was exactly like that half cooked dish for me, it didn’t leave any lingering aftertaste to be savored! A tale of a boy haunted by his grief and loss from years ago, should have been far more tormenting and impactful.
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