Netflix's interactive Black Mirror movie is here, just in case 2018 wasn't dark and twisted enough for you – CNET

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Fionn Whitehead plays Bandersnatch's protagonist Stefan, the main character whose actions you -- the viewer -- choose. 

Netflix

Don't misunderstand Netflix's latest stab at interactive TV based on the ones that came before: This one definitely isn't for kids. 

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is Netflix's latest take on interactive video. But where Netflix's previous efforts were animated tales aimed at children, Black Mirror takes the new format in a darker, more mind-warping direction. 

Interactive video often feels like a gimmick, a digitization of the choose-your-own-adventure books of old. But rapid advancement in the technology is expected to pave the way for the format to develop in its own sci-fi-like directions. The coming rollout of 5G -- ultra-fast, high-bandwidth mobile connections -- is one example of technology that also opens up possibilities for reinventing interactive video (along with a mess of privacy uncertainties).

That interactive video's future already has the tinge of Black Mirror to it makes Bandersnatch a fitting turn for Netflix. 

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Bandersnatch follows a programmer in the 1980s, bent on recreating a choose-your-own-adventure novel (written by an author who went insane...) as a text-based computer game. 

Netflix/Black Mirror

Netflix is calling Bandersnatch its first "interactive film," which seems like an aptly subversive way to further twist the literal meaning of the word film. (Once upon a time, it was something actually screened by projecting celluloid film.) The movie typically runs for about 90 minutes, depending on the choices that you make at the plot's branching points. Bandersnatch has more than 1 trillion possible permutations of its story, but the piece has "five main endings" that viewers can eventually end up with, according to Netflix. 

The interactive episode was first reported by a Bloomberg report in October. 

It's Netflix's first interactive program that isn't a cartoon for kids. The company introduced simple interactive episodes last year with children's specials, like a story based on the Dreamworks' character Puss in Boots. The title let a kid pick whether Puss, for example, fights against a god or a tree by choosing with a TV remote control or by tapping on a device's screen.

Bandersnatch preserves that A-or-B plot choice format, but the movie gives it a self-referential spin by building the story around a literal choose-your-own-adventure novel. The story is built around a 1980s video-game programmer named Stefan attempting to create a blockbuster text-based computer game inspired by that kind of branching-lot novel given to him as a child. In Black Mirror fashion, the author of this novel went insane and decapitated his wife. So, yeah, not for kids. 

Bandersnatch is available to experience on "most newer devices," according to Netflix, including TVs, game consoles, web browser, and Android and iOS devices running the latest version of the Netflix app. But you can't watch on Chromecast, Apple TV and some legacy devices, it said. 

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