Director – Nisha Ganatra, Teleplay – Matthew Huffman & Jeffrey Schecter, Story – Matthew Huffman, Based on the Graphic Novel Mirror Mirror by Josh Williamson, Producer – Heather Puttock, Photography – C. Kim Miles, Music – Brent Belke, Production Design – Linda Del Rosario & Richard Paris. Production Company – Arc Entertainment/Raindance Entertainment/Eh-Okay Productions.
Robbie Amell (Paxton Flynn), Keenan Tracey (Tripp Flynn), Alexa Vega (Dylan Savini), Victor Garber (Mason Fuller), Michelle Forbes (Jordyn Flynn), Kira Clavell (Mai), Dan Payne (Carter Flynn), Alex Zahara (Dr Kramer), Darryl Quon (Lahtasi), Eric Breker (Waters), Dean Monroe McKenzie (Captain Skooner)
Husband and wife Carter and Jordyn Flynn are in Thailand where they undertake a dangerous mission to retrieve the shard of a mirror. They are betrayed by their guide Mai but manage to make a getaway. Back in the US, their two sons Paxton and Tripp receive visits from Interpol agents asking the whereabouts of the other shards of mirror. They protest that they know nothing before the agents are revealed to be hired thugs who try to attack them. They are joined by Dylan Savini, a girl Paxton was semi-involved with, who reveals that their parents are Hunters – hereditary members of a secret group who cross the world searching for artefacts from fairytales and keeping them out of danger. Paxton finds the idea absurd until Dylan shows them the secret room where their parents plotted their missions. They reason the only way to find their parents is to locate the other pieces of the mirror. This takes them on an international quest where they are pursued by Mai. In asking the help of their friend, billionaire Mason Fuller, what they do not realise is that he is a former Hunter who has abandoned his vow and is the one seeking to obtain Snow White’s Magic Mirror and the incredible power within it.
The Hunters – not to be confused with the subsequent Whitley Streiber-adapted tv series Hunters (2016) – gives the appearance of having been made as a tv pilot that never went to series. The film is adapted from Mirror Mirror (2010), a one-off graphic novel by Josh Williamson published by Kickstart Comics.
The tv movie, which throws out all but the bare bones of the graphic novel, is a work that feels assembled by a committee who had no interest in the material, simply in tapping a certain demographic. Essentially, The Hunters has been construed by people attempting to create the next teen horror series a la Supernatural (2005– ), The Vampire Diaries (2009-17) or Teen Wolf (2011-7), one where the principal casting call for the two male youth leads has been good looks before any consideration of actual acting talent.
The premise of a team that search the world for artifacts from fairytales has something that makes you sit for a couple of minutes and wonder if it could be interesting or astonishingly lame. There is a good deal of similarity to the trio of tv movies beginning with The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004) and the subsequent tv series spinoff The Librarians (2014-8), which concerned a team that hunted mythological artifacts.
Whatever it may have been (or was in the original graphic novel), all that one can say is that it is give zero conviction by either its director, the script or the cast, all of whom only give the impression that they turned up for the respective paycheques as opposed to being engaged in a work of passion.
What we get is utterly generic sub-Indiana Jones action conducted on a low-end tv budget. There is no excitement to any of the action scenes, they just feel like generic filler for a show. The plot lacks any real conviction – these are heroes who can casually call on a billionaire friend to give help (before realising that he is also the villain causing all the problems and the one who has abducted their parents), or where one of the key components of the artifact is hidden inside Cinderella’s glass slipper, which has survived intact and as perfectly polished and unmarred glass for several thousand years and just happens to be on display at a museum that Victor Garber also sponsors. Crucially, if this was intended as a tv pilot, so little interest is generated that any audience beyond those interested in the good-looking youth leads, would have switched channels at the first commercial break.
The only one in the show who gives a performance is Victor Garber who I have always thought a reasonable actor. Alas, even he realises that the material is weighed against him and eventually lets all the villainy go campy. I had admired Alexa Vega as a kid performer in the Spy Kids films. Now all growed up and her hair dyed blonde, she just looks like another generic twentysomething starlet and gives a correspondingly anonymous performance.