In an attempt to experiment with choose your own adventure filmmaking, Netflix teamed up with the creator of the hit anthology show Black Mirror. The result was Bandersnatch, a film which allows the viewer/player to influence the outcome by making choices for the character at several points.
The first choice of the movie is picking which brand of cereal the protagonist, Stefan, will eat. It seems to be disconnected from the larger project initially, but the perceptive viewer/player will notice the brand of cereal they picked appears in an ad later on. The audience is often unsure of whether or not they are in control of the story.
If one makes a decision that the film does not like, it leads to an early ending, and forces the player/viewer to choose the other option. This is not the usual scenario, but it happens enough to make one wonder how much control they really have.
The theme of the film becomes oddly meta the deeper one explores. Stefan is forced by the player/viewer to certain actions he may find reprehensible, until he finally decides to fight back, only to once again give up later on. This is similar to the audience, who initially attempt to go against what Netflix wants by making the same choice twice. Once they see it doesn’t work, they accept certain options lead to an early ending.
There are multiple endings, none of which are happy for the protagonist. Most end in Stefan failing to create the game, or being arrested. At least one ends in his death. These endings further the core theme that choice is meaningless.
Due to the popularity of this choose your own adventure experiment, it is likely Netflix will slate more similar films in the upcoming years. Whether this is positive or negative is for the audience to decide.
So, Bandersnatch, what do I think? Five stars, loved it. (reference to an ending in the movie)