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Thursday, Dec 2, 2021

Review: “Bandersnatch” changes streaming forever

Over the past few years, Netflix has changed the way we watch television. Ever since they started out as a DVD-by-mail service, they have been at the forefront of the television and movie business, revolutionizing the way we access and view content.

As soon as they started their on-demand service, viewers were spoiled; all of a sudden, we could watch a seemingly endless selection of movies whenever we wanted. Then Netflix added television shows, and binging was the way of the future. Gone are the days where we wait for a new episode each week on cable TV. Now most people will just wait until the entire season is on Netflix and watch it in one sitting.

With competitors such as Amazon and Hulu nipping at their heels, Netflix looked to change the game again, and change it they did with the release of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” For those who are unaware, “Black Mirror” is an anthology series that explores the not-so-far future and presents plenty of “what-if” questions, delving into the realms of sci-fi, thriller and even mild horror at times. “Bandersnatch” is simply the latest in the series, but it is much more than just another episode.

“Bandersnatch” is the first successful “choose-your-own-adventure” television show. This idea of the viewer deciding where the story goes has been around for quite some time now in books, but never before has it been tried through a television medium. Netflix pulled out all the stops and created a story that is as wild as it is gripping, and the viewers end up as a part of the story just as much as the characters they are watching.

By selecting from two options on the screen when prompted, viewers decide which way the story goes. One would think that the switching of paths is chunky and ruins the illusion, but Netflix found a way to make it seamless. All in all, there are five different “endings” that the viewer can achieve, and there are numerous dead ends that can be followed. Netflix filmed over five hours worth of content for the show, and it certainly pays off.

“Black Mirror” episodes have attracted both up-and-coming actors and more-well known names to the show. The main character in “Bandersnatch”  is played by Fionn Whitehead, and the show is supported by the talents of Craig Parkinson, Will Poulter, Asim Chaudhry and Alice Lowe. Each of them plays their parts beautifully,  especially Whitehead.

The only criticism that one could have for “Bandersnatch” would be the storyline itself. While the path-choosing is seamless and the acting is wonderful, the story leaves a bit to be desired at times. With fans being able to choose what they want to happen, oftentimes I found myself wanting an entirely different ending to occur, but having it never come to fruition. That being said, the story that was presented was still strong enough to carry the premise of the show.

“Bandersnatch” is perhaps the boldest visual experiment of recent memory, and its success is certainly a bright sign for the future. By intertwining the viewer with the story in ways that only a “Black Mirror” episode can, the show truly shines. If you have not yet experienced “Bandersnatch,” do so as fast as you can. You will not regret it!


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