Choose your own adventure is a familiar genre when it comes to books and video games but movies have now broken into that genre with Netflix’s new movie, Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch.
The movie is set in 1984 and it’s about a young man (Fionn Whitehead) that’s building a video game. The movie involves an element of inception because the video game, which is based on a book called Bandersnatch, is choose your own adventure.
Bandersnatch has many influences, most obvious being video games. Video Games have been using the choose-your-own adventure approach for almost a decade with games like Infamous, Life is Strange and most recently Red Dead Redemption 2 all using audience choice to further narrative experience.
At different points in the movie a prompt will come up which allows you to choose the next step that the main character takes. It can be very simple decisions like what music the character should listen to or other, more complex decisions.
“I enjoyed being able to control the character because there was a period of suspense when you have to assess the possible consequences of both choices and choose accordingly,” Emily Hobbs said.
It’s great to see movies branching off into this new area and the movie is thoroughly enjoyable decision making process for the main character, but there are a few things in the movie that fell short for me.
A few times, despite what choice I made, it was obvious that the creators of the movie only wanted to film one outcome, so they basically forced you to choose a certain decision.
There are only so many scenes that they can film, so I understand that they’re limited when it comes to the number of story lines they can go down, but it felt as if they cheated the audience out of being able to dictate the outcome of the film.
The upside of a book is that you can continue to write more chapters and have multiple story lines because it’s cheaper to add pages to a book than it is to add scenes to a movie.
Another difference between choose your own adventure books and Bandersnatch is that once you choose a path in a book you can go back to your original decision and try the other storyline.
Netflix didn’t give you the ability to rewind and choose different choices to see different outcomes, so it didn’t have the feeling of flipping back and forth to see what could’ve been. It felt like more of a continuous stream than books do.
There were some scenes that allowed you to go back and choose different outcomes, especially towards the end, so it wasn’t completely lacking that element. You could always go back and restart the movie to choose different outcomes, but once I was done watching the movie, I didn’t want to go through it all again.
I really appreciated that they didn’t sacrifice the storyline and just rely on the novelty of the film being choose your own adventure. The plot was thought provoking and caused me to reflect on the choices I had made throughout the adventure.
The endings were very complex and each of them offered a satisfying ending to the film. Bandersnatch offers a viewing experience unlike any other.