[Review] The School for Good and Evil brings an enchanting book adaptation to the fantasy genre

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Netflix

Sofia Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso star as Agatha and Sophie in The School for Good and Evil, based on the novel by Soman Chainani. Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/Netflix.

Grace Brill, Graphic Designer

The School for Good and Evil is a young adult fantasy book released in 2013 by Soman Chainani and recently it has been made into a movie adaptation.

The School for Good and Evil came out on Netflix in the US on Oct. 19. The film was directed by Paul Feig and boasts a large celebrity cast. The star studded cast includes Sophia Anne Caruso, who played Sophie, and Sofia Wylie, who played Agatha. Kit Young was in the cast as Rafal, the main villain. Other celebrities include Charlize Theron as Lady Lesso, Kerry Washington as Professor Dovey, Laurence Fishburne as the School Master, and Michelle Yeoh as Professor Anemone.

It tells the story of two girls, Agatha and Sophie, who are brought to the School for Good and Evil, a school where people train to become their own fairytale stories one day. Sophie thinks she is going to go to the school for Good but gets put into Evil, while Agatha gets sorted into good. Both girls think they ended up in the wrong place and the only way for them to switch is if Sophie receives a true love’s kiss. However, when Rafal, the evil brother of the School Master, reveals to have mysterious ties to Sophie, our heroes must band together to stop him.

The cast did spectacularly in their roles. The acting never seemed fake and they were genuinely committed to their roles. Caruso was amazing as Sophie, beautifully portraying two contrasting characteristics for her character. Michelle Yeoh had the best throwaway line in the whole movie, which was after she was complaining about being demoted to a beautification teacher, “Do I look like I give a shit about smiling!?”

Although there were cheesy moments between characters, it was easy to suspend your disbelief because of the fairytale setting. Romance is a key part of fairytales, so it is reasonable that the story would include these cheesy romantic moments.

The costuming was done by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus, and she put a lot of effort into the costumes. The details in the dresses for the women are dazzling to look at, and look whimsical and dignified. Some of the costumes for the people in the school for evil looked simple yet elegant, especially for Lady Lesso and Sophie.

The set design for the two parts of the school were also amazing. The school for evil was surrounded in black fog and the interior seemed to resemble a classic vampire castle. The school for good was a castle as well, with beautiful architecture, bright colors and a ton of gardens and magnificent landscapes.

The CGI is one issue I have with the movie. In some cases, the CGI looked realistic, such as the magic, especially in fight scenes. However, there were other times when it was not as great, such as the guards for evil that were supposed to be anthropomorphic wolves. They looked fake and out of place with the actual actors.

While the story was amazing, as it mostly followed the book, the ending felt rushed at the end. There were so many plot twists and not enough time to let the audience process what was just revealed.

The themes and messages in the movie are important to tell. As Agatha spends more time in the school, she notices how everyone’s ideas about good and evil are very black and white.

“I don’t believe that anyone is truly Good or truly Evil because people are complicated, even if everybody in this place pretends they aren’t,” Agatha said.

The teachers complaining about how the school for Good is always based on looks rather than the real meaning behind it, shows a message of being true to your character and not focusing on the materialistic.

The School for Good and Evil is a wonderful addition to fantasy movies. It tells a great message and gets you excited in the action. The build up to the climax increases the tension as the audience infers with clues about what may happen in the future. With the ending scene giving clues that the main characters may have to stop another evil force, fans question if there will be a next movie to come.