“The School for Good and Evil” missed the magical mark

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

Agatha (left) and Sophie (right) accept their destinies together as they leave the School for Good and Evil behind them.

Brinda Iyer, Staff Reporter

Nine years after Soman Chainani shocked the tween-girl world with his mystical tale of two unlikely friends and a school full of wonders, Netflix released the movie adaptation of “The School for Good and Evil.”

“The School for Good and Evil” revolves around two best friends, Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie). Sophie is beautiful and kind, and she feels that she is above the common life that she was given. The polar opposite of Sophie, Agatha is content with her village life as long as she has Sophie with her. She has no desire for friends or beauty, so many of the other children in the village believe that she is a witch. 

However, when the two of them are transported from their small village to the magical School for Good and Evil, there seems to be a mistake: Agatha is deposited in the School for Good and Sophie is placed in the School for Evil.

The movie did well to keep the overall plot fairly similar to the book. Not much of the core plot was changed – As time went on and the girls weren’t switched to their expected schools, they had to learn to accept and adapt to who they really were. Agatha and Sophie had to fight each other, their environment and the evil School Master before finally achieving their happy ending.

With Chainani serving as an executive producer, the movie’s production was just as riveting as its plot. The diverse cast was made up of great actors who played their roles well– notably, rising talent Sofia Wylie, whose performance as Agatha was believable and well executed. The hair, makeup and costumes were absolutely stunning, and brought each of the characters to life. It was a fantastic visual experience, with action-packed fighting choreography and beautiful, bright settings.

However, the movie fell short in a few ways, and in all honesty, I think the adaptation would have worked better as a TV series. I found a majority of the characters to be flat and two-dimensional. Additionally, I felt that the side characters needed bigger roles. The talents of powerhouse actors such as Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh and Kerry Washington were underutilized and deserved more screen time. 

Some of the characters who were important in the book, such as Tedros — the love interest of both Agatha and Sophie — felt underdeveloped and neglected in the movie adaptation. Consequently, a few of the pIot themes, such as his eventual relationship with Agatha, failed to resonate with me.

Ultimately, despite a runtime of nearly two-and-a-half hours, the movie’s plot felt stunted and sorely lacked detail. I think that it would have been better as a TV series, where over the course of many episodes the characters would have been given the time they needed to fully develop their personalities.

I would give this movie a comprehensive rating of 6.5/10. The special effects and the actors’ amazing performances made it an enjoyable visual experience, but the plot felt rushed and the characters were lacking in depth. It was a good film overall, but it didn’t meet my expectations.