Hey readers, I’m back! And today I will be reviewing Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Soman Chainani which was published in 2013. Some of you may have already read the book and some of you may not have. It’s difficult to say which would be better in this case, but I would probably recommend watching the movie first and then reading the book if you like reading. I would say that because the movie does leave out a great deal of information. You can understand the gist of the movie without reading the book, but things will make more sense after reading the book. However, if you did read the book first, like I did, you will probably be torn on your opinion of the movie as it is a good deal different than the book in many respects.
The School for Good and Evil was founded by twin brothers, Rhian and Rafal. Rafal eventually gets fed up with Evil’s constant submission to Good and attacks his brother with blood magic. This throws him off a cliff to his presumed death. Rafal then begins his quest to find the purest of Evil to overthrow Good. Every four years two children are taken away to the School for Good and Evil, never to return home. One child is dropped off at the School for Good, and one is dropped off to the School for Evil. Those at the School for Good work towards becoming princesses and princes (called Evers) while students at the School for Evil learn to become villains (called Nevers). Although not everyone makes it, and some become sidekicks.
The story follows two girls, Agatha and Sophie, from the small village of Gavaldon. As you probably have guessed, these are the two girls that are kidnapped this year from the village. Sophie is very excited about becoming a princess because it was everything she was born to be. Agatha gets caught up in trying to save Sophie from being kidnapped that she is sent to the school as well. She doesn’t want to be there at all, even though nobody likes her back home and calls her a witch. She would rather stay home with her mom in the cemetery. However, fate has other plans for them. Sophie is dropped off at the School for Evil and Agatha is left at the School for Good. Sophie immediately insists there is a mistake and that she should be at the School for Good and Agatha should be at the School for Evil. Agatha just wants to get her friend and go
The school administration states many times that the headmaster never makes a mistake and that nobody can go home. Both girls must endure classes that are very out of their element while they figure out a way to either prove there’s been a mistake or find a way to get home. Agatha has to take beautification classes and Sophie must endure uglification classes. All the students are graded on a ranking system. The top students at each school will participate in special events that are held at the school. But two last place scores and you are given a punishment and are never seen again.
Due to some accidents at school, the girls manage to find their way into the headmaster’s tower with the Storian (a quill that writes all the fairytale stories that the students become part of) and the headmaster. Tells them that the only way to prove that there was a mistake and return
home is to answer the riddle of what does Good have to have that Evil can never have. The girls assume it must be “True Love’s Kiss”. So, they begin to hatch a plan to get Tedros’ attention on Sophie since his father is King Arthur. He must be Sophie’s true love.
Though Tedros falls for the plan for a little while, to the confusion of the students and staff because Evers and Nevers can’t be friends, he eventually sees through Sophie to what we all have been starting to see for a while. Sophie is definitely not an Ever. She really is a Never and Agatha was the Ever all along. Sophie is the villain in Agatha’s story and ends up destroying the school trying to get what she wants, and the Nevers take over for a brief period.
This story really makes you think about who really is good and who really is evil. It’s said that the evilest of people often masquerade as good. And this story really makes you think about that. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because someone wants to be a princess and loves pink doesn’t make them good. And someone who wears black and spends time in the cemetery isn’t inherently evil either.
I can also really appreciate the great cinematography and acting in this film. Charlize Theron as Lady Lenora Lesso, the Dean of the School of Evil. Lawrence Fishburne as School Master Rhian. Kerry Washington as Professor Clarissa Dovey the Dean of the School for Good.
Cate Blanchett as the voice of The Storian. Patti LuPone as Mrs. Deauville, the bookshop keeper in Gavaldon. Rob Delaney as Sophie’s father. And Michelle Yeoh as Professor Emma Anemone for the School of Good. And some new faces like Sophia Anne Caruso as Sophie and Sofia Wylie as Agatha. I can see promising futures for our younger actors. Also, I have to say, I really enjoyed the cover of Britney Spear’s Toxic in this movie. A completely different version that’s very eerie, gothic, and romantic at the same time.
However, as good as those things were, and the movie in general being good, I really felt like this should have been made as a series rather than a movie. The story feels very rushed. Even from the perspective of others who didn’t read the book prior to watching the film. I know it’s normal for things to be left out of a story when a book is made into a movie. But this really felt like a lot was missing and or changed, in my opinion. Generally, this movie has been received well so far. But for a book lover such as myself I was left expecting more than I got from it. I believe that, had it been made into a series rather than a movie, more of the story could’ve been developed in a way that doesn’t feel rushed. It could have been more fleshed out and better understood. Such as all the ways that Sophie had tried to put herself out there and prove herself to be good with the Evers. I also had looked forward to seeing Agatha transform into a cockroach to sneak into the School of Evil to help Sophie study for her classes. It wasn’t supposed to all take place within a couple of weeks.
If a sequel were to be made, I would give it a chance, but I certainly wouldn’t hold such high expectations for it. Chainani says there is a possibility of sequels being made, and they are already exploring possibilities for the next books to be adapted to film, however it would depend on how this first one is received. So far it seems to be very mixed reviews, especially from those who read the book first.
So, on the one hand, there’s great acting, cinematography, and music. On the other hand, it’s rushed and has lots of holes in it. For these reasons I would give The School for Good and Evil a 6/10. I hope that, if they do continue to make movies from this series, that the actors continue to participate in the filming. For me that really saved my rating from being lower.