Whale Rider - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Whale Rider Reviews

July 22, 2008
Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks.
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.
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.
July 3, 2003
The most effective and moving female empowerment movie in awhile.
Read More | Original Score: A+
June 27, 2003
[The story] is so simple that the audience gets ahead of it from the beginning.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
June 27, 2003
The film is closer to a feminist tract. And, like all propaganda, it wants to do all of your thinking for you.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
June 27, 2003
A story that J.K. Rowling fans young and old will savor.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
June 27, 2003
There is magic here, enough to make Whale Rider worthy of the audience-choice awards it has earned at film festivals worldwide.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 27, 2003
It's enough to make you think people really can talk to whales.
Read More | Original Score: B-
June 27, 2003
A whopping good yarn.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 27, 2003
A film of elegant simplicity that seamlessly combines reality and mythology. It's also one of the year's most beautiful films.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
June 27, 2003
Whale Rider is one of those book-me -a-ticket yesterday movies.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 27, 2003
A whale of a tale.
Read More | Original Score: A-
June 27, 2003
You leave the theater feeling as if you've encountered another culture and drawn inspiration from it.
Read More | Original Score: B
June 26, 2003
Refuses to get its toes wet, instead retreating into goody-goody fantasy.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
June 20, 2003
Features one of the finest child performances in years.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 20, 2003
A thoughtful, vivid spiritual coming-of-age story that transcends its particular cultural context.
June 20, 2003
At its transporting best, Whale Rider seesaws between archetype and innocence -- it's a re-founding myth that happens in real time, before an audience's wondering eyes.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 20, 2003
Watching this delightful film, one can see why it has been winning audience favorite awards at film festivals.
June 20, 2003
The genius of the movie is the way is sidesteps all of the obvious cliches of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
June 19, 2003
It rises from the sea on a convulsive wave of emotion but subsides slowly from the heart.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 19, 2003
The rhythms of Whale Rider are hypnotic as the ebb tide, haunting as the song of the humpback sea mammal, bracing as the ocean spray.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 19, 2003
A true crowd-pleaser that never panders to achieve its effects.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 16, 2003
... a visual poem to New Zealand's tribal communities that celebrates tradition, respects nature and embraces the new world.
June 13, 2003
It's a film about gender empowerment in which the struggle between the sexes isn't reduced to crude stereotypes, and the lessons learned come honestly and with a sense of genuine revelation.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
June 13, 2003
Despite their age difference -- one so venerable, the other so callow -- [Paratene and Castle-Hughes] both exude an intrinsic majesty that the camera adores.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 11, 2003
Unexpectedly touching, generous with its insights, and offers an exceptionally human glimpse into the heart of a land as exotic as it is remote.
June 6, 2003
Pai is resourceful and in harmony with the natural world in a way that will charm and enthrall young viewers.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
June 5, 2003
A contemporary version of an aboriginal legend from New Zealand that should delight audiences of all ages.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
June 5, 2003
The film boasts a terrific newcomer in the lead role, exquisite widescreen photography and a powerful sense of place.
June 5, 2003
Once the picture kicks into gear, it has the inspiring resonance of found art.
Read More | Original Score: 4/5
June 5, 2003
Caro gives the fablesque story -- based on a 1,000-year-old Maori legend -- both a contemporary and timeless quality, anchored by newcomer Castle-Hughes' powerful and haunting performance.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 5, 2003
When the words 'Dedicated to those who came before' appear on screen at the close, you can almost feel all those ancestors joining modern audiences in applauding what has been accomplished here.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
June 5, 2003
A portentous coming-of-age saga that weighs as much as the venerated ocean mammals at its center.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
June 5, 2003
Castle-Hughes is a star in in the making. She and her movie are worth cheering for.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
June 5, 2003
Castle-Hughes is astonishing in the demanding lead role.
June 4, 2003
An inviting international audience-pleaser written and directed with ardor by New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro.
Full Review | Original Score: B
June 3, 2003
The story itself is richly rewarding and uplifting -- the coming-of-age tale of a girl who must defy the odds to achieve her goals.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
June 3, 2003
Caro strives to poeticize the native sea legends (the lovely underwater whale footage is, alas, all digital), but the aboriginal hoopla comes off as tribal ritual for its own sake.