Review by Tatiana Miranda
Based on the book of the same name, The School for Good and Evil is perhaps Netflix's most anticipated YA movie of the year, and for good reason. With the source material's cult-like following similar to that of Harry Potter or A Series of Unfortunate Events, an adaption has been a long time coming since film rights were bought in 2013. Now, nine years later, the beloved book series characters finally make their live-action film debut. The film features rising stars Sofia Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso as the two leads, with a more established cast including Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Yeoh alongside them.
Like many fantastical young adult stories, friendship is at the heart of The School for Good and Evil. The main characters, Sophie (played by Caruso) and Agatha (played by Wylie), are two best friends who could not be more unalike. Agatha is rumored to be a witch, often taking the sidekick role to Sophie, who longs to leave their hometown of Gavaldon and become a princess. Sophie's wish leads the pair to the School for Good and Evil, a mythical school that prepares heroes and villains for the next generation of fairy tales. Upon their arrival at the school, the two girls are separated and forced to come to terms with their true good and evil natures.
Recent media, such as Disney's Descendants and Mattel's Ever After High, have toyed with the idea of a high school filled with the children of fairy tale characters. While Sophie and Agatha are not descendants of fairy tale characters, most of their classmates are. This is especially true of the main love interest, Tedros, who is the son of King Arthur. Because this means many similarities between all three popular iterations of this concept, The School for Good and Evil is by far the most well-developed of them all.
Best compared to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series, the School for Good and Evil has its own determination of character, with those attending the School for Evil called "Nevers," and their counterparts at the School for Good are called "Evers," in reference to their likely "happily ever after." Even characters such as Sophie and Agatha, who have non-fairy tale parentage, have their unique designation of "Readers," which is held with contempt similar to that of Harry Potter's derogatory "Mudblood."
It's not just the language and worldbuilding that helps The School for Good and Evil stand apart, but also the costumes, creatures, and set design. Distinguishing themselves from one another, the School for Good's candy-colored and ornate detailing is the counter to the School for Evil's dark and nature-based decor. With such a fantastical setting filled with magic and unusual creatures, such as fairies and anthropomorphic wolves, the CGI and costuming help immerse the story and will likely make viewers wish they could attend the school themselves.
Although the film has its fair share of cheesy moments, in particular, Sophie's villainous entry to Billie Eilish's "You Should See Me in a Crown," The School for Good and Evil is a captivating and entertaining watch that is reminiscent of popular YA novel adaptations, and will hopefully, receive the same acclaim and franchise capabilities.
The School for Good and Evil begins streaming on Netflix on October 19th.