It is no surprise that Netflix is entering the YA fantasy genre with The School for Good and Evil, given that it has already revitalized the rom-com and attempted to launch a few blockbuster franchises.
Here, the future defenders of Good and Evil receive proper training to maintain the delicate equilibrium we all enjoy in our favorite fairy tales.
Sophie’s always wanted to be a princess from a fairy tale, but when her parents send her to the School for Evil, her dreams transform into a nightmare.
The bond between them, and the future of the fairytale world, is in jeopardy because Agatha, who has no interest in living a fairytale, is accidentally left at the School for Good.
Since the publication of Chainani’s first novel in 2013, a film adaptation of The School for Good and Evil has been developing.
Netflix did not acquire the rights to the adaptation until 2017, and production on the film would not begin until 2020.
Once you see the finished product, you will understand why it took so long to make the film; it has the look and feel of a movie from the 1970s or 1980s.
Movie producers in the early 2010s were eagerly scooping up best-sellers in search of the next Twilight or The Hunger Games.
You could be forgiven for supposing the movie was released in the year you discovered it on Netflix.
There is a significant fault despite the presence of all the standard features, from the spectacular world-building to the courageous “ordinary” protagonists.
The School for Good and Evil spends its entire first two hours and change laying the groundwork for the sequels it knows will inevitably be made, but in doing so, it forgets to be an interesting film in its own right.
There is no need to have read the book to know where the movie is headed once the accident that puts Sophie and Agatha in the “wrong” schools occurs.
While it does put a unique take on sure classic tales, the film suffers because the movie’s main true love reveal done elsewhere a decade earlier (hint, let it go).
The ensemble of The School for Good and Evil, highlighted by the charming combo of Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie, is the film’s greatest strength.
Although they are doomed to repeat themselves, they always get the audience where they need to be emotional.
The film’s most memorable aspect is the supporting ensemble, led by Charlize Theron’s exquisite performance as School for Evil principal Lady Lesso.
Professor Clarissa Dovey, head of Kerry Washington’s School for Good, opposes Dovey and has fun revealing the shadowy undercurrents of her good nature.
Even in the minor supporting roles, there are shining examples. Mark Heap’s portrayal of Uglification’s evil teacher at the School of Evil is appropriately Jim-like. At the same time, Cate Blanchett is a natural fit in the role of narrator (really a magical artifact known as The Storia).
The fantastic universe has clearly been constructed with care and a healthy respect for the source material. Paul Feig, who also authored the screenplay for the film with David Magee, has adapted parts of the original novel but kept the overall structure and conclusion the same.
You could find yourself wishing that some additional material had been cut from the film. Netflix is crossing its fingers that The School for Good and Evil will not turn off its die-hard book lovers.
There may not be enough news to attract those unfamiliar with the franchise’s canon, and the film’s length may cause some viewers to tune out before the sequel’s inevitable set-up. There are five more books in Soman Chainani’s series, which could entice Netflix to return to this universe for future films.
The concern is that it is possible that The School for Good and Evil will not be successful enough to warrant reopening. You can now stream The School for Good and Evil on Netflix.