Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: Best friends Sophie and Agatha are taken from their village and find themselves at a mysterious school where you are either trained to be a hero or a villain in fairy tales. Soon a monumental battle begins, and the friends find themselves on opposing sides.
Review: Most of us grew up reading epic fairy tales of the prince vanquishing the villain and rescuing the princess whom he promptly marries, and they live happily ever after. In The School for Good and Evil good and evil exist to maintain the balance of the universe. There’s probably some truth to that because the capacity to do both good and bad things exists within all of us whether we like it or not.
The School for Good and Evil is based on the first book of a fantasy novel series written by Soman Chainani. The Netflix film was directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters <2016>). Some critics have labeled the film as a Harry Potter rip-off, but I beg to differ as the story can stand on its strength. The similarities end with the film taking place at a mysteriously located school that teaches the use of magic. But it’s so much more than this!
The story begins a long time ago with magical twin brothers Rhian and Rafal (Kit Young) who initiated the titular school. Rafal becomes power-hungry and grows tired of sharing power with his brother. He uses blood magic and attacks his brother Rhian. By the end of the fight, it shows that Rafal falls to his death. Many years later the story begins to follow the friendship between two girls from the village of Gavaldon. The pretty, blonde-haired Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) aspires to be a princess just like the ones that she reads about in her fairytale books. The wild-haired Agatha (Sofia Wylie) on the other hand is labeled a witch and is treated as an outcast. The two cannot be more different from each other: Sophia desires to leave the village and seek the destiny that was foretold to her by her dying mother; however, Agatha is not only afraid of losing her best and only friend in the village but is doubtful that such happily ever afters exist. Their friendship is given the ultimate test once they are kidnapped from the village and taken to The School of Good and Evil and end up on opposing sides.
The film is mega-campy and wholesome fun for the entire family especially if you happen to be a fan of classic fairy tales. The set and costume designs are stylish and pleasing to the eyes. The atmosphere gave me a vibe similar to the ABC network fantasy series Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) which also used characters from classic fairytales but added brand new twists to their storylines.
The strength of the film lies in the skillful acting of the two main leads Caruso and Wylie (more so Wylie). Her character Agatha, the outcast of her village, tries to show the Dean of the School for Good, Professor Dovey (Scandal’s Kerry Washington), just how selfish the school’s rules are. If a student does not conform to perfection or is deemed a failure the consequences can be quite severe and even deadly. On the other side, in the School for Evil run by Lady Leonora Lesso (Charlize Theron), the students are mostly the children of some of the most famous villains of classic fairy tales, such as the son of Captain Hook and the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham. These students have to deal with the fact that they would most likely be vanquished by a future hero and that they will never get a happy ending.
The story arc takes a particularly dark turn when one of the leads becomes corrupted by pure evil. The weaknesses lie in some stumbles along the way in the execution of the story plus the misuse of major headliner actors. You have the likes of Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh, Laurence Fishburne, and Kerry Washington. I would have liked to see a bit more effort placed into this aspect of the film. There are also lots of high school and fairy tale tropes, so be warned.
The School for Good and Evil manages to successfully encompass the battle between good and evil, and how easy it is for one to become tempted by evil to achieve what one most desires. But in the end love, no matter the source, can conquer all if you believe that it is never too late for redemption.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
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Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More