By Katlynn Rossignol
Sofia and Agatha of Galvador are whisked away from their small medieval town and enrolled in the School for Good and Evil, where the descendants of fairy tale characters are trained in magic. But upon arrival, the girls believe they are put in the wrong schools and must find a way to switch before it’s too late.
“The School for Good and Evil” is a visual spectacle, filled with plenty of fun visual effects. The ‘blood-magic’ is especially well executed and leaves a magical impression. The costumes are appropriately whimsical and help distinguish the two schools through differing aesthetics. Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie, playing Sofie and Agatha respectively, do a great job at conveying their lead characters.
The message of the movie is straightforward and simple. Sofie and Agatha preach the power of friendship as they come together despite their differences. No matter what happens in the movie, Agatha is there for Sofie and tries to help her. The movie is very direct with this message and states it multiple times.
I’m always happy to enjoy a good story about magical schools and fairy tales, but “The School for Good and Evil” manages to feel rushed and drastically too long all at once. It’s not easy to fit a book series into a single film, and it brings to question whether this story would have been better suited as a TV series instead of a film. This movie fills every second with fast-paced important events and it is exhausting watching the full two-and-a-half hours of its run time.
The fundamental issue with “The School for Good and Evil” is the way the world distinguishes between good and evil. The movie constantly raves about how the balance between good and evil must be kept and insists that the schools should not intermingle or be switched. Yet during all of this, they never define good or evil. The closest they get to a definition is the fact that students are trained to be the heroes or villains at their respective schools and that the school “sees” the good or evil in them.
These schools don’t teach the students any sort of morality or skills though, instead teaching things like beauty or “uglification”. The movie tries to pretend this is a criticism of how shallow the schools have gotten but then proceeds to not say anything deeper about what should be taught. The movie shows that switching schools does nothing except change the student’s color palette and aesthetic. This confirms that the difference between the schools is exactly as shallow as it seems.
It is shown later in the movie that evil can corrupt and consume characters, implying that evil is separate from anything taught at the schools. It brings to question what defines good and evil in this universe. The closest the movie gets to such a definition is declaring that “Evil attacks and Good Defends.” This loses credibility though, as we see The School for Good conduct acts that would be considered “evil,” and nothing happens. These definitions lack believability and cause the plot to be confusing.
“The School for Good and Evil” is a generic magical-school-for-teens movie. The visuals are well done and entertaining, with good acting to keep the audience engaged. However, its shallow interpretation of good and evil leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Its overly long runtime is riddled with plot holes. While the theme of the movie is friendship, this gets bogged down with its shallow commentary on good and evil.
“The School for Good and Evil” is a flawed movie that tries to say something meaningful, but only manages to confuse the audience with mixed messaging and messy morality. While not the absolute worst movie on Netflix, it may be best to find something else to watch in your spare time.
“The School for Good and Evil” is now available to watch on Netflix.
Katlynn Rossignol is a Freshman Communications Major and A&E writer for Cedars. She loves 2D animation, superhero movies, and the color pink.
Images courtesy of Netflix