Whale Rider
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Based on the novel of the same name by Maori writer Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider is a unique family drama directed Niki Caro. On the eastern coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their ancestor Paikea was saved from drowning by riding home on the back of a whale. The tribal group has since granted leadership positions to the first-born males, believing them to be descendants of Paikea. This tradition is challenged when a young mother dies in childbirth along with her newborn male son. His twin sister manages to survive and the father (Cliff Curtis) runs off, overwhelmed with grief.… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks."
‑ Dennis Harvey, Variety
"The most effective and moving female empowerment movie in awhile."
‑ Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle
"both an effective snapshot of the challenges which modernity brings to indigenous cultures, and a neat illustration of the power of myths to adapt."
‑ Anton Bitel, Daily Info
"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."
‑ Mark Halverson, Sacramento News & Review
"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."
‑ Ethan Alter, NYC Film Critic
"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."
‑ David Ansen, Newsweek
"[The story] is so simple that the audience gets ahead of it from the beginning."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"Excellent to watch and discuss as a family."
‑ Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
"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."
‑ Robert Davis, Paste Magazine
"...an uncommonly intelligent, well-crafted movie that -- despite the curious PG-13 rating -- parents shouldn't hesitate to see with their kids."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"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."
‑ , Time Out
"The film is closer to a feminist tract. And, like all propaganda, it wants to do all of your thinking for you."
‑ Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel
"This is what a children's film should be like."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
""Whale Rider" is a mystical, gentle movie that goes beyond the boundaries of the usual coming-of-age film."
‑ Linda Cook, KWQC-TV (Iowa)
"The climactic revelation, when it comes, is something so ambitious that I never would have dreamed it would work convincingly. But it does."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
More reviews for Whale Rider on Rotten Tomatoes

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