Whale Rider
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On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs have always been the first-born and male. Many generations later, the contemporary tale revolves around a young mother whose male newborn twin dies in childbirth. Her young husband flees New Zealand in grief, leaving grandparents Koro and Nanny Flowers to raise the sole survivor, a feisty little girl named Pai, who radiates with life… 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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