The School for Good and Evil is based on the international bestselling series by Soman Chainani and centres around two childhood misfits and best friends Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie). Sophie and Agatha share the unlikeliest of bonds, as the two could not be more opposite. Sophie is the golden-haired seamstress who has dreams of escaping her dreary life in her village of Gavaldon. Sophie dreams of escaping her town, of her stepmother’s desires to have her work in the factory as the memory of her dead mother tells Sophie she is destined to change the world. Agatha, on the other hand, has a different life to Sophie. Where Sophie is a dreamer in a chaotic household, Agatha lives quietly on the outskirts of town with her mother, mixing remedies for people. Agatha’s desires are to help her mother, to live a quiet life without being branded as a witch by others and belittled and threatened daily. All that changes when Sophie wishes to be whisked away to the School for Good and Evil, to live out her princess fairy-tale and both girls are kidnapped and taken to the titular School for Good and Evil.
The arrival of the School for Good and Evil is fitting for what awaits Sophie and Agatha. Sophie is dropped off at the School for Evil, in muddy water, with others dropped beside her as well as their luggage. Agatha is placed on a literal bed of roses but while Sophie had some sort of warm welcome from Hort (Earl Cave), the son of Captain Hook, Agatha is branded as a witch by her School for Good peers and bitten by fairies. Both girls believe they have been dropped into the wrong school, with only true loves kiss being the only thing to remedy this, Sophie and Agatha begin to test and question the school’s rules directly to their deans, Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron) of the School for Evil and Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington), leading the School for Good. When a dark and dangerous figure with mysterious ties to Sophie emerges and threatens to destroy the school and the world beyond entirely — the only way to a happy ending is to survive their real life fairy-tale first.
As soon as the viewer enters the School for Good and Evil, director Paul Feig perfectly encapsulates the entire world of the School of Good and Evil and the world beyond. The movie opens on the reasoning for the school. Two twin brothers, one good and one evil, named Rhian and Rafal (both played by Kit Young) set the tone for the movie. The two twin brothers are shown sparring, showing the balance of good and evil from the start, and right away, writers David Magee and Soman Chainani waste no time in showing us the antagonist of the movie, Rafal and his blood magic and claiming, ‘Evil doesn’t cooperate; evil doesn’t share.” It shows how self-serving evil can be, which only adds to the reasoning of why Sophie truly belongs in the School of Evil. The tone and pace of the movie is perfectly balanced. The movie runs just under two and a half hours, but Magee and Chainani set the pace perfectly. From the introduction of the School for Good and Evil to Sophie and Agatha assimilating within their new environments, the movie was enjoyable to watch and there was never a point at which I wished for it to end. Magee and Chainani understood where to add the different conflicts perfectly into Sophie and Agatha’s experiences within the school.
One of the most interesting things within the movie was the perception of Good and Evil. While the School for Evil forces their students to undergo uglification classes and use force to make the students access their talents, the School for Good is no better. Within the School for Good, students are only allowed to fail three times, to which Agatha learns when she fails to smile. None of the students within the School for Good has an issue with someone dying if they fail, not if they achieve their own story and happy ending. The consequence of failing is shown through Gregor (Ally Cubb). After failing twice already, the son of Prince Charming had made it clear from the start that he does not want to be in the School for Good and Evil. Gregor makes a choice to leave a task, thus gaining his third and final failure, and the consequences are devastating; but it provides Agatha with more of a determination to question the school. Sofia Wylie gives a fantastic performance as Agatha attempts to navigate her own morals and what is right.
As Agatha navigates the School for Good, Sophie is determined to be placed in the right school and that means winning her true loves kiss. Tedros (Jamie Flatters) is the perfect prince for Sophie, as not only is he the son of King Arthur, but he is also the poster boy for the School for Good. Like a lot of the Good students, Sophie can only see the superficial side to Tedros, but it only shows they are not the perfect match she craves. Sophie really grows into her own within the School for Evil and Sophia Anne Caruso manages to play Sophie’s diva, narcissistic side while also making her extremely likeable. It is a testament to both the actor and the writing, as it would have been far too easy and predictable to make Sophie one of the most unlikeable characters.
Overall, The School for Good and Evil perfectly highlights that things are not as simple or as black and white as good and evil. From the way the Nevers (the Bad Students) were more welcoming and accepting of Sophie than the Evers (the Good Students) were, the writers have perfectly shown that not all evil is bad and good does not have to be this perfect image. I think audiences will enjoy this movie as it highlights the characters and world in a wonderful way while delivering its message in the subtleties of the characters trials and interactions. With perfect music to accompany scenes such as Toxic by 2WEI and You Should See Me in A Crown by Billie Eilish, not a single scene is wasted.
Agatha is the MVC for this movie as she is focused and unselfish while maintaining her own identity and has an inquisitive nature that propels the story. Sofia Wylie has a warmth about her that reflects on the screen, a natural heroine. Chemistry with Sophia Anne Caruso is natural and even when the characters argue, their friendship still shines through that runs deep.
The School for Good and Evil premiers on Netflix October 19th.