Whale Rider - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Whale Rider Reviews

Top Critic
Dennis Harvey
Variety
July 22, 2008
Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks.
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David Ansen
Newsweek
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.
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Time Out
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.
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Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
July 3, 2003
The most effective and moving female empowerment movie in awhile.
Full Review | Original Score: A+
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
June 27, 2003
[The story] is so simple that the audience gets ahead of it from the beginning.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
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.
| Original Score: 3/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
June 27, 2003
A story that J.K. Rowling fans young and old will savor.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
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
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Tom Long
Detroit News
June 27, 2003
It's enough to make you think people really can talk to whales.
| Original Score: B-
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
June 27, 2003
A whopping good yarn.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
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-
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
June 27, 2003
Whale Rider is one of those book-me -a-ticket yesterday movies.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
June 27, 2003
A whale of a tale.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
June 27, 2003
You leave the theater feeling as if you've encountered another culture and drawn inspiration from it.
| Original Score: B
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Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
June 26, 2003
Refuses to get its toes wet, instead retreating into goody-goody fantasy.
| Original Score: 3/5
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
June 20, 2003
Features one of the finest child performances in years.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
June 20, 2003
A thoughtful, vivid spiritual coming-of-age story that transcends its particular cultural context.
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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
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Desson Thomson
Washington Post
June 20, 2003
Watching this delightful film, one can see why it has been winning audience favorite awards at film festivals.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
June 19, 2003
It rises from the sea on a convulsive wave of emotion but subsides slowly from the heart.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Mark Caro
Chicago Tribune
June 19, 2003
A true crowd-pleaser that never panders to achieve its effects.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
June 16, 2003
... a visual poem to New Zealand's tribal communities that celebrates tradition, respects nature and embraces the new world.
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
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
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
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.
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Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
June 6, 2003
Pai is resourceful and in harmony with the natural world in a way that will charm and enthrall young viewers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
June 5, 2003
A contemporary version of an aboriginal legend from New Zealand that should delight audiences of all ages.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Sheri Linden
Hollywood Reporter
June 5, 2003
The film boasts a terrific newcomer in the lead role, exquisite widescreen photography and a powerful sense of place.
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Elvis Mitchell
New York Times
June 5, 2003
Once the picture kicks into gear, it has the inspiring resonance of found art.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
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
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
June 5, 2003
A portentous coming-of-age saga that weighs as much as the venerated ocean mammals at its center.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
June 5, 2003
Castle-Hughes is a star in in the making. She and her movie are worth cheering for.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Ernest Hardy
L.A. Weekly
June 5, 2003
Castle-Hughes is astonishing in the demanding lead role.
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
June 4, 2003
An inviting international audience-pleaser written and directed with ardor by New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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
Top Critic
Michael Atkinson
Village Voice
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.