Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 179 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 100
    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.
  2. Seduces us with its leisurely pace and felicitous details into believing that something miraculous is afoot in a mundane rural community.
  3. 89
    Castle-Hughes and Paratene are nothing short of remarkable in their roles.
  4. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    While Whale Rider is a doozy of a female-empowerment fantasy, it’s mercifully free of any feminist smugness.
  5. 80
    Writer-director Niki Caro, who adapted the screenplay from the novel, has crafted a script replete with both crowd-pleasing touches and subtle but powerful insights into all the characters.
  6. Pai is resourceful and in harmony with the natural world in a way that will charm and enthrall young viewers.
  7. Like the film, Pai's character is muddily conceived and ill-focused, but the coltish, tremulously delicate Castle-Hughes is a hypnotic camera subject.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 73 out of 98
  2. Negative: 22 out of 98
  1. Mar 2, 2013
    Whale Rider is a film about a young girl named Paikea who struggles to be taken seriously by her grandfather. It is a highly emotional and gripping story which has you at the edge of your seat from start to finish. It is set in Whandara, New Zealand. It is based on the legend of Paikea and it shows us how the Maori tradition works and operates. The main character, Keisha Castle-Hughes, stars as Paikea and wants to become the leader of the Maori tribe. She plays a very convincing role and looks like she badly wants to be the leader of the Maori tribe. Rawiri Paratene plays Paikea’s grandfather and is unsure if Paikea is really capable of being a leader, but is shown throughout the story that she is indeed worthy. The soundtrack used in the movie keeps us on the edge of our seat and the camera work really helps the viewer get an idea of the Maori culture and the way that the characters are feeling. This movie teaches us that anyone, regardless of their age or gender, can be a leader. The storyline can sometimes be quite challenging to follow for someone that does not know much about the Maori culture, but in conclusion, Whale Rider is a great movie for any age group. It has powerful morals, fantastic actors and a great storyline. Expand
  2. Nov 10, 2013
    "Whale Rider" has an emotional and powerful story. The acting of young Keisha Castle-Hughes was great, in fact, the acting of the entire cast was fantastic. The only problem with this film is that, because the film doesn't give you much background of New Zealand cultures, and if you don't know much about it, you will be slightly puzzled in some places. Expand
  3. Sep 28, 2010
    Keisha Castle-Hughes put all other child actors to shame in her dramatization of Paikea, a girl whose destiny as the leader of her people is constantly subverted by the traditional ideas of her grandfather. However, as awe-inspiring and inspirational as the story to "Whale Rider" is, director Niki Caro goes to unnecessary lengths to make sure you know why the movie was made, which detracts from the overall experience. Expand
  4. Mar 24, 2013
    Painful to sit through.
  5. Mar 27, 2014
    This movie is a bubbling cauldron of whale urine. The acting is putrid, the story nauseating, and the cinematography mundane, unless you like lots of underwater shots of people slowly drifting around with voiceovers playing in the background. In fact, I made an account specifically so I could come and issue the warning that Roger Ebert and his fellow critics wouldn't. STAY AWAY! Expand

See all 98 User Reviews