Having very recently read the first book by Soman Chainani with which I was a little frustrated. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this movie. Paul Feig the director can be a bit of a mixed-bag quality-wise, and the only thing I’ve seen from David Magee is Mary Poppins’ Return, which was just ok. The leads, Sofia Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso were unknown to me, and as great as the supporting cast is with Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Michelle Yeoh, Kit Young, and Laurence Fishburne it didn’t settle my mind even if the trailers looked good.
Premise: Best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they’re swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between Good and Evil.
Review: Within the first minutes of this movie I could tell that it was better written. For one it set up the threat right away, and then it made the two leads believable. There’s a reason why they are friends, why one or both would fight with each other. It’s in fact unclear why one ends up in the school for evil and the other in the school for good. They both immediately look better, no one is an oblivious doormat and no one is actively disingenuous.
In fact, in two quotes they dispelled one of my – and many others’ – complaints about the book: “One doesn’t measure one’s goodness just by how one looks. No, it’s about what one does.” and “It’s not what we are but what we do,” they’ve tone done some of the shallow stuff and repurposed it to showcase how corrupted things have been in one of the schools. There’s actually one scene from the book that was surprised they kept, not just kept they’ve elevated it by making it more impactful for us, it’s the dispatching of a creature. I’m staying as vague as possible not to spoil the story.
Speaking of the story, they trimmed the hell out of it, yet the spirit of the book is here. Key plot points are there and they make a little more sense. The stakes are raised and the girls do feel like they are in danger even with the knowledge of this story being a fairy tale and that it might end well. Also, the production value in this film is excellent, the sets, costumes, and visual effects are top-notch.
As for the cast they pulled it off, not that I was worried about the veterans, but they were just campy enough. Besides, it was fun to see the subtleties that Yeoh, Theron, and Washington infused in their characters. I likes the movie and watched
Streaming now on Netflix
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