Netflix 2018 Movie Releases Encounter Praise and Backlash

Isaac Cooper, Design Editor

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Bird Box, two adventurous film projects from Netflix released towards the end of last year, have come under scrutiny.  Black Mirror: Bandersnatch has prompted a trademark lawsuit on Netflix, and Bird Box has received backlash from viewers over its choice to include footage of a real train accident.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an ambitious project for Netflix because it includes the “choose your own adventure” narrative system.  The movie is structured so that scenes arise, in which the viewer must make choices for the protagonist Will Poulter (Colin Ritman), a young programmer attempting to design a game based off of a novel.  In Black Mirror fashion, this linear idea does not go as planned.  The result is an exhilarating journey that puts the journeys of characters in the viewer’s hands.

“My friends and I had fun with it,” Brown University student and RJR alum Aaron Cooper said.  “It was not a new concept to us since choose your own adventure has been around for a long time, but we really enjoyed it.”

Chooseco is issuing a trademark lawsuit onto Netflix for $25 million because “choose your own adventure” is trademark of the company. Chooseco’s suit asserts that Netflix defamed the “choose your own adventure” brand and used it without Chooseco’s permission.

“You can’t trademark a story,” RJR junior Adam Puentes said.  “It should just be there for people to use.”

Cooper agrees with Puentes.

“It’s a ridiculous idea to reserve rights to a story type,” Cooper said.  “Let art be art.”

Bird Box is unique in its plot and cast.  Birdbox is a Netflix produced movie starring various notable actors, including Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich.  Malorie Hayes (Bullock) must protect her two children in the wake of a natural disaster that kills anyone upon seeing it.

“The movie was really good because it was very romantic.  It was really bizarre and cool,” RJR sophomore Dajanay Jenkins said.

RJR sophomore Keziah Jones also liked Bird Box.

“My favorite part was when they were in the river and she found them.  It was crazy how they couldn’t see anything but she found them in that rushing river,” Jones added.

Despite the positive reviews, Bird Box is receiving backlash from some viewers because of a production choice to use real train accident footage in the movie.  The footage used was of the 2013 Lac-Megantic train accident in Quebec, known as the “Quebec Blast,” which took the lives of dozens of Canadians.  This fact changed the perspective some RJR students had about the movie.

“It kind of changes [my perspective] because you know lives were… taken in the incident,” RJR sophomore Jenna Kate Gordon said.

Netflix is denying requests to delete the footage from the movie on the grounds that the footage is classified as stock footage.  Netflix defends its position by citing how using stock footage is a common practice in film and television.

Netflix ended 2018 with blockbuster releases that have garnered positive feedback and praise from viewers.  However, some of its artistic choices have become questionable under the light of ethicism. As Netflix continues to grow and settle itself as a media powerhouse, it will continue to arrive at the crossroads of morality and legality.

Photo provided by Creative Commons