Julian’s Thoughts: Black Mirror Bandersnatch Review

For the most part, I don’t tend to rush and watch Netflix’s original films unless the reception is very high. most of them typically feel like movies that are either not good enough to make money at the box office or bizarre concept films.  I guess “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” falls into the bizarre concept category.  Still, as a fan of “Black Mirror” and someone intrigued by the premise of an interactive film, I had to check this film out as soon as possible.

The amount of options you have is amazing and leads to fascinating paths.  The premise of the film is also delightfully meta as it focuses on a game designer in 1984 developing his own make your own adventure game.  Seeing how the filmmakers play around with this concept is genius. I used to read some of the choose your own adventure books when I was younger so I fully knew what I was getting into. The acting was great in the film.  I thought Fionn Whitehead and Will Poulter really pulled you in.  Through different choices, Whitehead and Poulter manage to display varying states of emotions and mental statuses. “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” has at least five different endings and one of them cannot be accessed as of right now and It may never see the light of day until someone figures how to trigger it (many speculate that it branches from the five number password selection).  There are countless numbers of possibilities the story can take with reports that not all scenes have been unlocked by viewers. Some of the choices from the beginning of the film will be referenced later at some point as well. If you watch this movie on a gaming console, Your controller will rumble to let you know when it is time to make a choice. I watched some different paths with some different endings and they vary quite a bit. The theme of this movie is also how one person can be controlled in different ways even though they would not notice it and that played very well during this movie. The film is one of the most ambitious projects ever to be filmed.  That same ambition I admire might also be the only complaint I might have because it would be almost impossible to see all the different paths that can be taken.  Some critics said the film was too gimmicky but I disagree.  I think it could be the future of streaming films if they are done right.

With so many possible story outcomes, it’s hard to dismiss the fun you have controlling the direction the story takes.  Also, with seamless editing, the film never “feels” like an interactive experience.  “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” manages to pull off the rare win for original Netflix films, I just hope it becomes the first of many. I would also like to note that you cannot watch this movie with older streaming devices or an Apple TV as of right now.

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TV Shows to Binge Before The Winter Break Ends

Happy 2019 everyone. I hope that everyone that is reading this enjoyed their time off during the holidays. 2018 was a great year for television with current shows such as The Walking Dead, West World, Gotham, and Legends of Tomorrow and new shows that landed on television and the streaming services. Some are a hit or miss, but they are watchable during the winter break. When the winter break ends, it is back to reality for the world to get back to either school or work as the normal life resumes. But it does not have to be all normal as you can still do some activities after the day ends. Although there will be minimal time during the week, the weekend is where you can do whatever you want and one of those things is watching television. Gone are the days of sitting in front of your TV staring at commercials every seven to ten minutes as you can pause the show you are watching on your streaming account. Today, I will recommend a few shows to watch during the winter break. It is January now and many people will be inside (if you are in the northeast region) due to cold weather so why not binge a TV show.

Black Mirror (Netflix)

This series can challenge the viewer’s mind in many different ways and the best part about this show is that you can watch all of the episodes in any order that you want to. It is one of those shows where you do not have to watch the first episode since each episode has a different story. There are also mind bending plot twists on some of the episodes of this show that will have your mind blown. A perfect example is the ending of the episode “Shut Up and Dance”. I will not spoil the ending, but it makes you think of how far can you go to hide a secret. Give Black Mirror a chance and recently, a movie called Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has made it’s way to Netflix and it is an interactive movie with five possible endings.

Everything Sucks (Netflix)

 

This show takes place in the year 1996 at Boring High School in Oregon (I am not joking, that is the name of the high school) and most of the show’s plot revolves around the A/V club in that school. The characters on this teen comedy has different personalities and one of them is also closet gay which becomes another sub plot of the show when the way it was revealed during the show. Another good aspect of the show is that it was not just about how everyone looked at the 90’s as it felt natural and not forced in your face. The acting of all of the characters during that time period fits the narrative of what the show was about. And this is the freshman year of high school so there is also drama with other students and parents as well. I recently found out that Netflix pulled the plug on this show due to high production costs and I was bummed to find out about that news. Take a chance to watch this show as I think that it is underrated.

Gotham (FOX)

The fifth and final season of Gotham premiers this week and this is another show where I feel that should have not ended this quick. Gotham showcases the characters of the Batman comic book series in their younger days as Commissioner James Gordon and Harvey Bullock are the main stars of the show. There is intense action in every episode that will keep you on the edge of your seat. We are also shown the younger versions of Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Penguin, Scarecrow, and even The Joker. There was a concern about continuity issues since most of the stoylines from the show that are in the comic happens when all of the characters are older, but it blended in well on the show especially The Court of Owls plot arc on the show. If you want to see a young Batman on television, then this show is for you. It is also not connected to the Arrowverse shows at all so you will not be confused with trying to catch up with the other shows at all.

Unreal (Lifetime/Hulu)

Another good show with an interesting concept as it is about a production of a “Bachelor/Bachelorette” reality show. This is not a reality show at all and I was intrigued about it. The head of the production is a woman named Quinn and her on and off again producer is Rachel and they have a team with them to produce the show. You will find out real quick who is the enemy and who is not and the show has many moments that will make you laugh especially when Quinn makes funny comments about the contestants as she sees them from her production room. I will not spoil too much about the show, but there is also drama with the cast and the contestants and it all makes up for good TV. If you are into TV production, I would fully recommend the show. Plus, I know that reality shows are over produced, but it was not until this show where it exposed how over produced those reality shows are.

You (Lifetime/Netflix)

If you want a psychological thriller that is based off a novel, then this show is for you. Taking place in New York City, This show is about a male that stalks his love interest with social media and he does everything he can to be in a relationship with her and to protect her. He does this by killing people that are close to her such as her boyfriend and her best friend. The best parts about the show is the narration sequences that blends in with the scenes to give the viewer what is on his (and sometimes hers) mind as the scenes go forward. The concept is interesting and this show took advantage of the use of social media the most out of any scripted show from the first episode, to the season finale. Good thing that Netflix picked the show up because season 2 is coming soon.

The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness (WWE Network)

Of all of the WWE Network original shows, this show I would recommend the most. Edge and Christian are a former tag team in WWE in which they have won the tag team championships together seven times. They would both have a successful careers without each other winning multiple World Heavyweight Championships on their own. The team was known for their highly praised comedy skits inside and outside the ring and a show about them doing comedy skits is so totally worth watching. There are great skits on this show that breaks the fourth wall such as “Will WWE Talk About It” which is the funniest part of the show. During the episodes, Edge and Christian go on a mini adventure and there are also sometimes Easter eggs that are included in their dialogue. For example, one of their most recent episodes, they traveled to a dark cave and everyone in the scene commented about how dark it is inside the cave. Then Christian says “are we in the impact zone?!” and I laughed to tears hearing that unexpected line. There are also game show skits within the show such as the “Chumpstain Challenge” as Charly Caruso is the host and Edge and Christian answers themed questions. This show has a mix of everything packaged into one show on the WWE Network.

 

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