• PG-13, 1 hr. 45 min.
  • Drama, Romance
  • Directed By:    Niki Caro
  • In Theaters:    Jun 6, 2003 Limited
  • On DVD:    Oct 28, 2003
  • Palm Pictures

Whale Rider Reviews

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Anton Bitel
Daily Info
June 11, 2013

both an effective snapshot of the challenges which modernity brings to indigenous cultures, and a neat illustration of the power of myths to adapt.

Nell Minow
Common Sense Media
December 29, 2010

Excellent to watch and discuss as a family.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Felix Vasquez Jr.
Cinema Crazed
April 29, 2009

This is what a children's film should be like.

Mark Halverson
Sacramento News & Review
August 7, 2008

The movie's story is a sometimes clumsy but gradually involving coming-of-age story about courage, sexism, past customs vs. contemporary social values and a community and family at odds within themselves.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Dennis Harvey
Variety
Top Critic
July 22, 2008

Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks.

Robert Davis
Paste Magazine
June 3, 2008

The third act -- where all our predictions come true -- has a quiet dignity and, although it moves from A to B as expected, how it gets there is surprisingly mysterious.

David Ansen
Newsweek
Top Critic
November 1, 2007

The filmmaker knows how to seduce an audience without making it feel had. When a movie's this likable, it would take a very tough crowd not to be pleased.


Time Out
Top Critic
January 26, 2006

Niki Caro roots her characters in a landscape equal parts mundane and boundless, incorporates tantalising sea photography and Lisa's Gerrard's ambient soundtrack, and lifts off into a sublime, Elysian ending.

Linda Cook
KWQC-TV (Iowa)
June 3, 2005

"Whale Rider" is a mystical, gentle movie that goes beyond the boundaries of the usual coming-of-age film.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Ethan Alter
NYC Film Critic
March 5, 2005

I can honestly say that there is not a single plot point or character arc depicted here that I have not seen a thousand times before.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
January 29, 2005

...an uncommonly intelligent, well-crafted movie that -- despite the curious PG-13 rating -- parents shouldn't hesitate to see with their kids.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Jeffrey Overstreet
Looking Closer
December 6, 2004

The climactic revelation, when it comes, is something so ambitious that I never would have dreamed it would work convincingly. But it does.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Tony Medley
tonymedley.com
October 7, 2004

I was captivated and had intermittent tears in my eyes throughout this touching tale, although I would have ended it differently.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10
Mark Sells
Oregon Herald
August 13, 2004

Encapsulates the grace and beauty of international cinema.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Enrique Buchichio
Uruguay Total
March 16, 2004

No se queda en la mera descripción antropológica; es ante todo una fascinante historia sobre el coraje, la auto confianza, los vínculos familiares, las tradiciones...

Louis Proyect
rec.arts.movies.reviews
March 2, 2004

Stirring story of Maori culture

Vanessa Sibbald
Zap2it.com
February 24, 2004

The key to "Whale Rider's" appeal is that the film doesn't force an opinion upon its viewers

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Thomas Delapa
Boulder Weekly
February 9, 2004

Young Keisha Castle-Hughes is a Down Under wonder in the lead as Pai, a spunky little Maori girl who could.

Lori Hoffman
Atlantic City Weekly
January 30, 2004

'Niki Caro's striking visual images match her elegant, understated prose creating an uplifting story.'

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Mark Robison
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 5, 2004

The movie is smart with its storytelling and delivers several powerful scenes.

Full Review | Original Score: A+
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