“The School for Good and Evil is a flawed but entertaining and original adventure revisiting fairy tales.”
The School for Good and Evil is Paul Feig’s latest film, adapted from the series of books by Soman Chainani. It features an A-list cast with Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, and Cate Blanchett, as well as up-and-coming actresses Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie. You can now watch it on Netflix. If successful, this could become Netflix’s own young adult fantasy saga. But is it worth the watch?
This film tells the story of best friends Agatha and Sophie from Gavaldon who are taken to the school for Good and Evil. The school for Evil trains future villains. While the school for Good trains princes and princesses from fairy tales that aim to inspire the outside world. Unfortunately, Sophie believes she was sent to the wrong school. With her best friend, she has to prove that she doesn’t belong there. Throughout their adventure, their friendship is tested.
The concept of two schools training characters from fairy tales is an original and fresh idea. There is this explicit balance between good and evil. It is so well executed. And the hefty runtime of 147 minutes never feels too long. Indeed, the film keeps a steady pace. It does a strong job of introducing the characters and this world. Even though you can tell where the story is headed, the film finds a way to keep you entertained all the way until the end. I was definitely left wanting to see more!
This film has an impressive supporting cast that includes Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, Laurence Fishburne, and Cate Blanchett (as a voice only). On paper, this is amazing. However, this cast is criminally underused. With them, they could have done a lot of things, yet the film barely does anything. I am the most disappointed with Michelle Yeoh’s role. She has roughly three minutes of screen time in which she does nothing at all. Nevertheless, the two main characters are played by talented young actresses who almost make you forget of the wasted supporting cast.
Moreover, the visuals are often striking with beautiful wide shots of the two schools and splendid interiors. Indeed, the production design is of great quality. I love how the two schools mirror each other as they are opposites. And the costumes are what you would expect from fairy tale characters with a modernized take.
However, the visual effects are extremely uneven. On one hand, as I said above there are beautiful wide shots. On the other hand, you also have a lot of shots that feel like they belong to a small-budget film. With any shot that gets a little too close, you can so easily tell that the actors don’t blend well with the green/blue screen. Undoubtedly, there is a problem with how the scenes are lighted at times. The cinematography isn’t always on point. I think it is a shame. Because this is clearly a big film, it should have higher quality standards.
Furthermore, Theodore Shapiro has composed a fine score that captures the magic of this world, especially the school for Good. The film mixes his work with rocky songs. These songs add a different vibe to the fairy tale world. It gives it a more gothic and modernized touch. Which actually works well. It feels like these belong to the school for Evil as it matches the aesthetic of their costumes.
The School for Good and Evil is flawed, not making full use of its impressive supporting cast and having uneven visuals. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining and original adventure revisiting fairy tales. I think with some improvements, if Netflix decides to adapt the other books, it could become a solid saga.
The School for Good and Evil is streaming on Netflix right now!