Film Review: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

by - January 01, 2019

Note: This will not be a review of the idea of an interactive "choose your own adventure" film, but rather simply a review of the movie that I ended up watching. A full on review of the interactive aspects, as well as bonus clips that I did not see in my first viewing of the film will follow in an upcoming blog post.


Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive film that is a part of the Black Mirror TV franchise. This Netflix film is written by Charlie Brooker, who writes the episodes on Black Mirror, and just like the other episodes, this is essentially a stand-alone story. This film, set in 1984, follows Stefan (played by Fionn Whitehead), a budding computer game programmer as he takes inspiration from a popular "choose your own adventure" book named Bandersnatch, and plans to adapt it into a video game. If you know anything about Black Mirror though, you know the story isn't as simple or as pleasant as that sounds.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) - source: Netflix

I am someone that has given Black Mirror a go as the TV series, and it is incredibly well crafted and written. I chose to start from the first episode, and it almost made me feel sick watching the ending. Since then, I have not had the time or been in the right mood to sit down and continue the rest of the episodes, but they seem like some of the best made TV shows at this current time. The team are also twisted and created, coming up with dark stories and ways to link the dark, almost dystopian worlds with reality. Therefore, when it was announced that an interactive film was being produced by the same team and under the name of Black Mirror, it seemed like something only they could do and actually pull it off.

The basic premise of having the main character focus on the "choose your own adventure" game for his own project almost felt cliche to me, and at times the execution of it was not perfect. There were moments when it almost felt like the character was trying to explain the concept to the viewer, which almost seemed unnecessary. They also included a lot of flashbacks and back tracks in the film, which I am not a fan of. It made the film seem clunky and badly paced.

This is a unique case where the editing is badly done, but I can forgive it. This film is different in which there has to be long panning shots and repetition, particularly when a choice is being made. The team also had to try and edit numerous films and make them all seem coherent and a perfect pathway, which I can imagine is a very tough thing to do. But yes, there are scenes that drag on too long, the long pauses seem unnatural and the character development is hardly there, outside of our lead character Stefan.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) - source: Netflix

This film tries to tackle a range of different themes, and in my film I feel like some of them were a fantastic theme to tackle. I particularly liked the idea of showing the mental disorder of dissociating, which fitted quite well with the idea of being controlled or losing control of your own brain. This not only added a bit of humour from "breaking the fourth wall", but also was great commentary on a mental disorder that is unknown to many people, and something that I have only recently seen represented in media in Glass.

The acting in this film is fantastic throughout, and Fionn Whitehead gives a performance that I would compare to Alex Wolff in Hereditary. They are bout up and coming actors that have now tackled a role in which their own bodies and minds turn them insane and as if they are out of control. Will Poulter is the only actor that I knew going into this film, and yet he plays a character that is so different and out there that I forgot that it was Poulter. I am a fan of shows like Black Mirror that get unknown or smaller actors to portray characters, as it takes me out of it being a TV show and that it is almost reality.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) - source: Netflix

This is one of the only times that a film review can never reflect a single person's viewing experience, even if they get the exact same film that I have gotten. Each of our minds will have chosen different paths for different reasons, and it is a fun thing to be able to discuss and expand upon with further watches. Whilst I did not fully enjoy the film that I ended up watching, there may be a version there that I will prefer. I certainly do not want to see every company jump on this bandwagon and produce their own movies like this, but for a Netflix service to work with Black Mirror, a show that does commentary on media, the world we live in and the people and how we interact in society, this was a fantastic idea that only added to the messages they were trying to get across in the film.

2.5/5

Have you checked out Black Mirror: Bandersnatch yet? Did you enjoy your film, or do you plan to go back and try to get a better story out of it? Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where I will talk about my experience watching the film, what I made of the gimmick and whether there were extra clips that I did not see that I would have loved to have seen in my cut.

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