Review of School for Good and Evil, Paul Feig’s new Netflix movie starring Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington.
Good versus evil is one of the oldest stories in the world. Heroes versus villains, we see it over and over again in superhero stories or fairy tales. On this point, The School of Good and Evil reinvents absolutely nothing, even if the film tries to put a little nuance in its potion.
The School of Good and Evil tries to inspire and twist the stories of cookie-cutter heroes and villains in a new way, but it’s such a monumental task that the film struggles to live up to it. Adapted from Soman Chainani’s series of young adult books and directed by Paul Feig, the film is filled with contradictions, it’s a jumble of cliches and inconsistencies with just enough charm and wit to keep you watching.
The feature film follows two best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), teenage outcasts from a quaint town called Gavaldon: Sophie dreams of a glamorous life as a princess and Agatha is a much more earthy teenager. on the ground who adores her cat and is called a witch all day long.
When Sophie desperately wishes to escape her provincial surroundings, she and Agatha are transported to a school for fairytale heroes and villains. The problem is that they’re split into opposite houses: despite her ballgown and Prince Charming fantasies, Sophie is thrown into the dark halls of the school of evil run by Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron) and Agatha, with her witch name and affinity for black clothes, is stuck in the candy pink of princesses with Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington).
Sophie sets out to prove that she really is meant to be a princess on the good side, but (obviously) in the process, she’s seduced by the evil (and oddly reminiscent of Sabrina Spellman). On her side Agatha, who is not bad but who is more nuanced, begins to see the conspiracies around the schools and tries to save Sophie so that she can go home.
Imitation Harry Potter
In many ways, The School of Good and Evil sometimes makes you think of Harry Potter, but a less elaborate version. The special effects are borderline; plot points are phoned in and the world is built of white thread with limited character development. The cinematography isn’t bad but it’s a bit oversaturated.
However, Sofia Wylie’s performance as Agatha is solid, she manages to give roundness to her role in the midst of often one-dimensional characters. Of course, the performances of the other big names – Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh (underused), Laurence Fishburne and Kerry Washington – lend weight to the script’s most fragile moments. And the film has immaculate styling, from the hairstyles and makeup to its elaborate costumes, even its fights are well put together.
If sometimes, we feel a scenario on the surface, we still have the feeling that the film tends towards a more in-depth exploration of questions such as: Does fate exist? Are we each deeply good or bad? How does our vision of good and evil shape us? To this end, the film often becomes meta, in particular by the way in which Agatha clings to her convictions or even to the narration in voiceover (by Cate Blanchett in VO).
A series would have been a better choice
Strangely, the film is both long (2h27) and too short. He does not have enough space to develop all his ideas and unfold his plot satisfactorily. The School of Good and Evil is equivalent to a whole season of a series condensed into a feature film but we also feel the desire to make it a franchise and to continue the expansion of this world.
This does not mean that there is no potential in this story because as imperfect as it is, it recalls the importance of the friendship between two young girls who, even if everything opposes them, remain inseparable. . And we wouldn’t say no to a return to this powerful school of sorcery that is reminiscent of Hogwarts; if only the film could fully realize at least half of its ambitions, then it would be a powerful and impressive story.
The School for Good and Evil – Trailer
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The School of Good and Evil: Between Good and Evil
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