A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hunters is another installment from the Walden Family Theater sponsored by Walmart and Procter & Gamble, and viewers will spot a few Walmart shopping bags in the movie. There are many fight sequences in this action/adventure story, so you'll see hand-to-hand combat, a hostage situation, and the use of crossbows, which are the characters' weapon of choice. Two men are shot off-screen, another dies in a unique manner, and others are presumed dead for at least part of the movie, but the exchanges are never bloody. A friend turns foe and threatens the lives of the story's heroes, which might be confusing for younger viewers, and there are some moments designed to startle the audience. On the other hand, you'll notice positive themes about family bonds and doing the right thing even in the face of temptation. The bottom line? This Walden Family Theater movie is a bit more intense than the initiative's past offerings, but it still gives families with older kids and tweens mostly worry-free content and a story that encourages discussion afterward.
What's the story?
Based on a comic book called Mirror Mirror by Joshua Williamson, THE HUNTERS opens with Carter (Dan Payne) and Jordyn Flynn (Michelle Forbes) hot on the trail of a long-lost piece of a mythical mirror, accompanied by their new acquaintance, Mai (Kira Clavell). Things take a turn for the worse when Mai turns on them, steals the find, and leaves them for dead in the Thai forest. Thousands of miles away, the Flynns' sons, Paxton (Robbie Amell) and Tripp (Keenan Tracey), are suddenly drawn into the fray of their parents' secret lives as members of The Hunters, an ancient society of warrior scientists who locate and protect powerful fairy-tale objects from those who would use them for their own gain. Joining forces with a Hunter named Dylan (Alexa Vega), Paxton and Tripp set off on an international quest to retrieve the four missing shards of the mirror before an unknown adversary can collect them and the magical mirror itself. The movie also stars Victor Garber as the Flynns' longtime friend Mason.
Is it any good?
The Hunters marks another effort by Walmart and Procter & Gamble to deliver quality entertainment for the whole family, and once again it succeeds ... to a degree. The good-versus-evil, globetrotting archaeological adventure certainly isn't a new movie concept (ever heard of Indiana Jones?), nor is it likely to be a particular winner with the little ones in the family. To that end, enter the fairy-tale tie-ins: the magical mirror from Snow White, the Seven Dwarves' cottage, and a few other elements from other favorite stories and elements of mythology. The trouble is, this aspect of the story isn't prominent enough to keep kids' attention or to take the edge off the sometimes intense content, and, in light of the otherwise intense action sequences, it comes across as pretty corny to older viewers.
But the news isn’t all bad. Setting aside the Snow White arc, this is a story about family members trying to find each other, both literally and in the emotional sense. Carter and Jordyn's job takes them far from home a lot, and the fact that their boys don't know the truth about what they do drives an even bigger wedge down the middle of this family. In that sense, what begins as each side's biggest nightmare could wind up being their saving grace, and the movie's messages about honesty, communication, and trust aren't tarnished by a disjointed story line that misses the mark for families.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about facing difficult decisions. Kids: Why did Paxton and Tripp agree to track down the shards before looking for their parents? Does the common good always outweigh individual desires? Have you ever faced a choice between what you wanted and what you knew was right for everyone involved?
The Flynns faced a dangerous traitor in their midst. How would it make you feel if a friend turned on you like this? Do you find it easy to trust people in your life? Whom do you trust completely? Why is the ability to trust others important?
Talk with your kids about facing temptation. Have you ever succumbed to temptation and done something you knew was wrong? How did it make you feel? Have your friends or other peers ever encouraged you to do something you didn't want to do? Why is it hard to stand up to peer pressure?
- On DVD or streaming: January 7, 2014
- Cast: Alexa Vega, Robbie Amell, Victor Garber
- Director: NIsha Ganatra
- Studio: Anderson Merchandisers
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for action/violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.