Mario’s Movies: ‘Bandersnatch’ a Choose Your Own Review Review

By Mario Ricciardi

I get it, there’s something inherently easier about making memes about Sandra Bullock with a blindfold on than a complex multidimensional choose-your-own-adventure movie. I get it, I really do. Well, here’s the truth (a hard to swallow pill if we’re still talking memes), “Bird Box” is just “A Quiet Place” with sight instead of sound. “Bird Box” is a fine movie, but the real 2018 Netflix film to watch is the choose-your-own-adventure, “Black Mirror” subproperty, “Bandersnatch.”

So, how does “Bandersnatch” work? You hit play (or Netflix automatically hits play for you after you’ve hovered over the play button for no longer than 1.6 seconds), it starts and the year is 1984. You are introduced to video game designer Stefan Butler beginning his day. What does Stefan have ahead of him? He is on his way to pitch a choose your own adventure video game, based on a book by an enigmatic writer, to software company, Tuckersoft. Once Stefan gets to the breakfast table, his dad offers him a choice of cereal, the footage stalls to filler shots, and you have 10 seconds to choose between Sugar Puffs and Frosties.

From then on you, the viewer, are in control of Stefan’s major choices. Who doesn’t like control, right? Admit it, you too-cool guy in the blue sweater reading this in your office, life goes so much more smoothly when you’re making the major moves.

In total, the film yields five hours of finished footage, around 3 million permutations and multiple surprise endings (one of which even allows a custom video game download to an emulator).

A unique piece of work that piques our desire to satisfy the “if it were me, I’d do this,” itch, and explore far out theories about reality from your couch accompanied by a bag of chips. Just be sure to choose which hand you’re going to eat the chips with and stick to it because you’ll need your controller or remote a lot.

So, how many penguins do I give it? Wrong question. How many penguins do YOU give it?

I am:

  • Willing to go along with this and offer an opinion (please move to 7).
  • Going to stop reading the opinion columns and move on to actual news (please turn to page 1).

7. “Bandersnatch” was:

  • An uncontended cinematic piece of history disruption in the making? (as a thank you for knowing true accomplishments please go to 1).
  • Pretty darn tootin’ good? (this is valid, please move to 2).
  • Complicated, but interesting? (you deserve to be heard out, read 3).
  • Eh? (Eh yourself, read 4).
  • A waste of your time? (please stop reading my reviews after you move to 5).
  • What are you mumbling about Mario? (check out bandersnatch when you get the chance! Read 6).

1. Wow, “Bandersnatch.” More like Oscar-snatch. Because it was better than any best picture winner I’ve ever seen. And you know what, if it gets snubbed I’ll snub the Oscars. I’m not afraid to cut that cable cord. Netflix is all I need now. Bandersnatch is too good for award ceremonies anyway. It knows its value.

????? (5/5 Penguins)

2. It was way more than what I expected from the trailer. The best part? I never asked for this. A great example of artists reminding people they don’t know what they want until shown. Occasionally, it plays out as gimmicky, but that’s completely forgivable thanks to its intense love for the medium and the story it tells.

???? (4/5 Penguins)

3. So like, it’s cool I guess. I found myself more frustrated than amazed. It’s worth the experience, though. I’m also upset because my Xbox controller ran out of batteries halfway through. Not sure if I’m factoring the inconvenience into this (I am).

???  (3/5 Penguins)

4. I’m actually a snobby art critic with too much dignity to give this one penguin, which it totally deserves. I also don’t like things that are forward thinking. And there’s too much equal representation in Hollywood.

?? (2/5 Penguins)

5. I watched the movie like Sandra Bullock in “Bird Box” (blindfolded).

? (1/5 Penguins)

6. What the heck is a “Bandersnatch?” It sounds dirty. Should I really be writing about such things in an accredited publication? (0/5 Penguins)

You made it this far, how about one more?

  • One more. (please move to 8).
  • No more. (End).
  • Ten more. (I’ve written too many words, please go to 8).

8. I am reading this online.

  • Yes. (please go to 9).
  • No. (please go to 10).

9. Turn your phone off and ask yourself what you see? It’s a black mirror. Get it? (End).

10. This is good that you are reading this here. I appreciate this. You are a rare one. (End).