If ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Harry Potter had a weird baby somewhere in the middle, it’d be Netflix’s The School For Good and Evil. Based on the children’s book series by Soman Chainani, the film follows the first in what will hopefully be a seven-part installment. While I haven’t read the books and can’t speak on whether the film does an accurate job of adapting them, I can say that for the spooky season, it’s solid entertainment to add to one’s watchlist.
Starring Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh, Laurence Fishburne, Kit Young, Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Jamie Flatters, Cate Blanchett (off-screen), and more, the film’s premise is relatively simple. There’s a school for good and evil, but where there was once balance, it’s now full of lies and chaos. Sophie (Caruso) and Aggie (Wylie) are sent to the school but placed on opposing sides. In order to get Sophie back into the good side, The Evers, they must find her a true love’s kiss. When the original plan doesn’t work, Sophie gives in to Rafal’s (Young) promises and strives toward doing whatever is necessary to gain what she wants, temporarily losing herself in the process.
While the pacing is clunky at times, the film’s heart lies in the friendship forged in childhood, setting its endgame on a tale that illuminates the imperfections of humanity.
As a story that audiences have seen many times before in various forms, The School For Good and Evil finds its footing through Sophie and Aggie’s friendship. It allows the girls to be unapologetically flawed while adoring each other profoundly for who they are. Pieces of their relationship mirror Gillian and Sally’s from Practical Magic. From the moment we meet them, nothing is more apparent than the detail that the girls would do anything for each other. And it’s always refreshing to have steady female friendships on our screens like this than women pitted against each other.
Additionally, while the plot wobbles when trying to push through dramatic changes, its fiery cast shines through. Theron, Washington, and Yeoh are fantastic alongside Fishburne, and there should have been far more from each. Kit Young is also a standout performer as he (spoiler-alert) plays two versions of a character and how he manages to bring edges to both. As an impeccable performer in Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, Young is undoubtedly an actor to look out for with future projects.
Further Recommended Films: Hocus Pocus 2 Review: Sanderson Sisters Return For an Emotionally Charged Flight
As an origin film, it does enough to fill the gaps while balancing a stacked plot. If the film were a series, it’d allow for a bit more build-up before getting to big battles that feel like a payoff. Still, it functions well enough where the gist is all there, and for the rest of the films, the plot can perhaps slow down a little more, allowing for quiet moments to take precedence over loud explosive ones because they’re the pieces that worked best here. The characters are intriguing enough that seeing more of them already feels exciting, and what the school can become has much potential.
The School For Good And Evil is now streaming on Netflix.