28th Jan2019

‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe, Asim Chaudhry, Tallulah Haddon, Catriona Knox, Paul Bradley | Written by Charlie Brooker | Directed by David Slade

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Charlie Brooker’s seminal TV series Black Mirror returns on Netflix with an advantageous subtextually corrupted and ironic damning assessment of a “choose your own adventure” feature-length episode in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Directed by David Slade, Bandersnatch offers a distinctive and unique outlook on the format of typical narratives found in cinema, yet often comes unstuck with its underwhelming lacklustre anecdote and now far too overly strong ethos that is becoming stale and predictable.

Fionn Whitehead as Stefan Butler impresses with leading actor status after his rather quiet but sizeable performance in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. He showcases an efficient and explorative emotional range. Benefitting the film due to the character crux structure and the resulting impact each sequence depends upon to engage with the audience. As does the highlight Will Poulter, who steals the show with his performance of Colin Ritman famed computer game engineer. With a distinctively unique Alan Partridge-inspired voice and bleach blonde hair – which go hand in hand in perfect 80s harmony – Poulter is mesmerizing in a small but ultimately endearing role with terrific charismatic screen presence. Whitehead and Poulter undoubtedly add to the heightened tension and atmosphere of what the Black Mirror series indulges and ultimately relishes in.

However, such themes of digital oppression that is the fundamental thread of this specific episode and the house that built it have become slightly tiresome with an incredibly dependent abundance of dystopian fears. Looking back at the first incarnation of Black Mirror with The National Anthem or Fifteen Million Merits in 2011, the themes and trepidation of electronic evolution are still as heavily dependent upon and central to the series as it was with the series inception.

It would suggest that in eight years the show has ultimately failed to evolve or showcase a growth or range. Only reinforcing this dystopian outlook repeatedly to a point of regurgitated decayed exhaustion. Aside from the comical and a gimmick inspired usage of choosing your own narrative, what does Bandersnatch really offer in terms of story or themes that differ from that of which has become before it? The answer is sadly a resounding emptiness of nothing worthy of interesting or articulated merit.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available to watch on Netflix now.

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