TL;DR – There were hints of something fabulous here, but it just felt like it was always held back from reaching its true potential.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film
The School for Good and Evil Review –
Many genres land for me on a personal level; one of them is taking traditional narratives and bringing a new twist to them. You can see it clearly when someone takes a swing at an old fairy tale and brings new life into it. Today we are looking at just such a film in a land far from our own, full of good and evil.
So to set the scene, in the long past of the fairy tale world, two brothers, Rhian (Kit Young) and Rafal (Kit Young) created a school to bring balance between good and evil, a balance that is now broken between them and the world after the use of forbidden blood magic. A long time later, in the small town of Gavaldon, two outcast girls, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), are complete opposites but also best friends. One day while in town, they stop into Deauville’s Storybook Shop, they learn about the legend of The School of Good of Evil, and Sophie puts all her hope into the wishing tree that it is real. Well, one night, under a red sky, they find out the answer the hard way. Even worse, they might have made a mix-up as they stare down Lady Leonora Lesso, the Dean of the School for Evil (Charlize Theron) and Prof. Clarissa Dovey, the Dean of the School for Good (Kerry Washington).
The first thing that I want to say is that one thing that makes this film work as well as it does is that the whole cast knows what type of film they are in, and everyone, I mean everyone, is chewing all the scenery. I mean, this film’s cast is stacked with big stars and a solid content of supporting actors that shine. Our two leads, Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie, do a great job of dropping us into this unknown world full of mystery and chaos while also having to be insert characters for the audience. The world is brought to life through some clever creature and set design, as well as a stunt team and fight choreographers that clearly know their trade. There is some exceptional wirework on show throughout the film.
However, while the setting, production, and casting were all there, I could not help but feel while watching the film that it was not reaching the potential that it could have. I have not read the novel this was based on, but I think maybe the condensing of the work into a film lost some of the nuances in translation. It also felt like it didn’t quite nail the tone. There were these moments when you could feel the film holding its punches, and that meant that there were no real stakes. It all felt a bit too safe for a movie that literally has Evil in the title.
In the end, do we recommend The School for Good and Evil? Well? There is a lot going for it, the cast, the setting, the action. However, it never quite landed with me, and the narrative never reached its potential. So, while I would not say you should avoid the film, I probably would not recommend seeking it out either. If you liked The School for Good and Evil, we would also recommend to you Stardust.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The School for Good and Evil
Directed by – Paul Feig
Screenplay by – David Magee & Paul Feig
Based on –The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Music by – Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography by –John Schwartzman
Edited by – Brent White
Production/Distribution Companies – Universal Pictures, Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, Jane Startz Productions, Feigco Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Sofia Wylie, Sophia Anne Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Peter Serafinowicz, Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, Patti LuPone, Rob Delaney, Rachel Bloom, Earl Cave, Freya Theodora Parks, Demi Isaac Oviawe, Kaitlyn Akinpelumi, Mark Heap, Briony Scarlett, Chinenye Ezeudu, Rosie Graham, Harvey Scrimshaw, Mark Charles, Ali Khan, Stephanie Siadatan, Emma Lau, Holly Sturton, Ally Cubb, Joelle, Petra Hajduk, Myles Kamwendo, Olivia Booth-Ford, Misia Butler & Aaron Campbell
Rating – Australia: M;