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  • Series Premiere Date: Dec 28, 2018
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Image
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 240 Ratings

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  • Summary: This stand-alone, "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style episode of Black Mirror (released ahead of Season 5 proper, which should arrive in 2019) is directed by David Slade and set in 1984, where it follows a young videogame developer (Fionn Whitehead). There are over five hours of footageThis stand-alone, "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style episode of Black Mirror (released ahead of Season 5 proper, which should arrive in 2019) is directed by David Slade and set in 1984, where it follows a young videogame developer (Fionn Whitehead). There are over five hours of footage altogether, but which parts you see will be determined by choices you make. Expand
  • Genre(s): Drama, Science Fiction
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Liz Shannon Miller
    Dec 28, 2018
    91
    If Brooker had taken a more literal approach to the idea of doing an interactive narrative, it might have proven dull. Instead, he took this as an opportunity to tell a story about how difficult telling stories like these are, really leaning into the meta opportunities provided by that approach while also indulging in some undergrad-level philosophical musings about the nature of free will. It’s a blend that works better than one might think, veering from comedy to pathos to horror with relative ease.
  2. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Jan 2, 2019
    80
    There is a lot to appreciate within the many iterations of Bandersnatch, which is not just a mystery box show, but a mystery box show about mystery box shows that’s trying to play three-dimensional chess with its audience.
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jan 2, 2019
    70
    It’s admirably executed, tightly organized, well-thought-through and a lot of fun, if not particularly frightening or profound. The interactive mechanics are splendidly handled and designed; it runs seamlessly, whatever path you take.
  4. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Dec 28, 2018
    60
    The bottom line is that despite the promise of becoming a participant in the storytelling process -- and the allure of wedding games and narrative fiction -- a well-told tale, watched passively, still trumps a so-so one that fosters the game-like illusion of putting the viewer in the driver's seat.
  5. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jan 4, 2019
    60
    Bandersnatch can be fun, if you’re entranced by its puzzle structure, or if you’ve always believed TV episodes would be better if only you could spend hours grinding through them again in order to watch 45 seconds of new footage. But it doesn’t make for much of a story. This is partly because the core plot is uninspired. ... It’s occasionally genuinely moving. But it’s not haunting in the way that comes from reaching the end of a story and realizing that the only “What now?” answer you get will have to come from you.
  6. Reviewed by: Kevin Fallon
    Jan 2, 2019
    50
    The interactive aspect of the viewing experience is seamless, and each adventure manages to be tonally unique and narratively distinct. But it turns out that when television starts to become a video game, the integrity of the story is muddied by the thrill of choice and control.
  7. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Dec 28, 2018
    20
    "Bandersnatch," as creative work and not as experiment, falls so short of the standard "Black Mirror" has set that to put it forward is to risk the credibility the series’s first four seasons have earned. ... Too little thought, ultimately, was given to how this plays as television.

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 58
  2. Negative: 13 out of 58
  1. Dec 28, 2018
    10
    Giving less than an 8 for this movie is ridiculous. If you complain that it seems unfinished you are totally wrong, its obvious that it isGiving less than an 8 for this movie is ridiculous. If you complain that it seems unfinished you are totally wrong, its obvious that it is impossible to create an infinite range of possibilities because of your choices and netflix did an incredible work at dealing with it.
    On top of that its an amazing movie that you can watch more than one time. Strongly recommend.
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  2. Jan 4, 2019
    10
    The point of Bandersnatch isn't the story itself, but how the story unfolds and how the viewer interacts with it. This show brings togetherThe point of Bandersnatch isn't the story itself, but how the story unfolds and how the viewer interacts with it. This show brings together some basic theories of free will, parallel realities, philosophy, and psychology. These elements are easily noticed within the film itself, but what isn't as apparent is how the show forces the viewer to play into the same principles. In most scenes you are presented with 2 choices to pick from in order to chose your path. This presents one of the largest areas of complaints from many people "well I'd chose something else!" The thing that isn't noticed by these people is that, like a character in the movie, you don't get to chose from anything that you want, you don't have total free will. It is through these choices that the show makes you feel like you are controlling the characters, but in reality, the show is controlling you, giving you an artificial false dichotomy which provides the illusion of free will, and puts you into the role of the characters that you are watching. If you want to just watch something creepy or thrilling, go watch the normal black mirror episodes. If you want to interact with something that provides an interesting thought experiment and a novel experience, watch Bandersnatch.

    Also, main character is a really good example of how someone progresses from the early stages of schizophrenia to full blown psychosis.
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  3. Dec 28, 2018
    9
    I think considering this a gimmick in the way some people are is a disservice to what's actually being done by this film.

    This film uses
    I think considering this a gimmick in the way some people are is a disservice to what's actually being done by this film.

    This film uses conceits from the plot as a means of generating the relevance of the mechanic rather than deciding on the mechanic and creating the rest to match. To this end, I actually think this achieves a great deal as a media concept piece. Every element seems to further every other element.

    I find it quite jarring exactly how stupid some of the reviews and criticisms have been.

    Wondering why this film uses choose your own adventure as Variety did in its review is so shockingly stupid. What other form would it take? The mechanic is a scaffold for everything to do with the film. It's not really an inclusion so much as an integral part of the structure of the experience. Perhaps they said it so they could review this film as if it didn't include the mechanic. Under this pretense, then one can surely justify the criticisms found throughout the piece which otherwise ignore the medium altogether.

    CNN belittled the philosophy of Colin as if it was actually the same as the philosophy of the film. They compare it to the musings of a drug-addled teenage, somehow missing that in context they actually were the musings of a drug-addled teenager, or rather the delusions of a mentally-ill drug-addled teenager. What a grand statement for CNN to make. How marvelously clever of a criticism!

    More than likely this is a symptom of something else. This is a symptom of a review culture that systematically derides anything it sees as video game-esque. Leave it to this review industry to totally overlook a cheeky usage of a medium that is otherwise gimmicky in a way that is actually integral to the function of the narrative.

    Indiewire seems to be, admirably, not so obnoxiously self-serious and pontificating to the extent that they actually seemed able to receive the experience of this film.
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  4. Jan 6, 2019
    7
    Well, that was an interesting experience that reminded me of John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It was more a video game than a movie so the movieWell, that was an interesting experience that reminded me of John Scalzi’s Redshirts. It was more a video game than a movie so the movie succeeded there (given thats what the movie tried to do), but as a movie, it was pretty lacking. The story was unfocused in telling its story and I felt like I did not see a complete movie by the time when the credits rolled.

    The story telling was very innovative and that was enabled because of technological advancement. But when you think about it, many choose your own adventure video games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead series and Life Is Stranger have done it much much better. I look forward to making decisions in the game but when ever the situation occurs, the movie basically just stops for 10sec for the audience to “play” the movie. I get it, its for the audience who arent used to this kinda thing. But for me who plays video game, it really breaks the story’s momentum. In The Walking Dead, things are still happening on screen while you have to rush to a decision, which felt a lot more organic. The first 10mins of the movie was so removed from the rest of the movie because it was kind of a tutorial.

    It was an interesting experiment and the use of the this choose your own adventure tech was fun.
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  5. Jan 9, 2019
    6
    It was fine. I like the innovative feel of being in control. But it felt as if there was no way. Whenever i wanted to to something, i neverIt was fine. I like the innovative feel of being in control. But it felt as if there was no way. Whenever i wanted to to something, i never had the choice. I only had the choice of bad and worse. I guess others had good endings, and i really tried, but at first i think i got the worst ending. It felt too random and too fragmented. I never quite understood what the story was about.. The guy? Insanity? Alternate universes? Us vs him? What is going on. Expand
  6. Dec 29, 2018
    4
    Please, ¿can people stop saying hoy innovative they think this is? Graphic novels, such as Steins;gate, have been allowing us to interact withPlease, ¿can people stop saying hoy innovative they think this is? Graphic novels, such as Steins;gate, have been allowing us to interact with the story and to decide how things will turn out for ages, but it's not until an american streaming service does it that people recognize it. Expand
  7. Dec 28, 2018
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A barely coherent narrative that forgets to actually make sense in pursuit of allowing watchers to decide what it was about.

    The team behind this clearly wanted this to be a case where the watcher could decide what was really happening in their own head-cannon. The problem here is that instead of leaning into ambiguous themes and endings the show decided to force the viewer to do the work of making sense of the show altogether. This might have worked had the show not contradicted itself at nearly every ending. Some endings play it straight with the main character jailed for committing crimes, others end abruptly with the main character implied to have been killed by a literal demon, others end with the main character in a karate fight with his therapist who suddenly produces a pair of battons with which to fight it out martial arts style. And that's to say nothing of the ending where the main character ends up in the real world amidst filming of the aforementioned fight scene very much in character while his director berates him for deviating from the script.

    At times the show appears to be commenting on the nature of free will, others it waxes on about the permanence of reality amid a not so theoretical set of alternate timelines. Sometimes we appear to be watching the hallucinations of a rapidly deteriorating mind, others we appear to be watching someone struggle as some mysterious technology from the distant year of 2018 forces them to make bad decisions and others the show seems to just shrug and a literal demon kills the main character.

    At it's best it's an ambitious project that forgot it actually had to be internally consistent, at it's worst it's an enormous meta wink at the audience that feels not just out of place but down right confusing.

    Black mirror is often thought provoking, but this particular episode just didn't make enough sense - I found myself asking a lot of questions, not because the episode had anything profound to say but because it simply wasn't coherent one ending to the next.

    I'm baffled to see so many positive reviews for this poorly executed gimmick, don't waste your time - Bandersnatch isn't coherent, much less an enjoyable viewing experience.
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See all 58 User Reviews