Whale Rider

2002

Action / Drama / Family

29
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 88%
IMDb Rating 7.6 10 36867

Synopsis


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December 05, 2011 at 07:05 PM

Director

Cast

Cliff Curtis as Porourangi
720p.BLU
653.22 MB
1280*720
English
PG-13
25.000 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 4 / 21

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ronin47 9 / 10

A feel-good movie that doesn't suck (***1/2)

"Whale Rider" can accurately be called an art film, but it's also one that will appeal to mainstream audiences. That's because it has a strong story that deals with universal themes like family, tradition, childhood and rebellion. The story is unique and unpredictable but also comfortingly familiar.

The main character is a young girl named Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) who is the grand-daughter of the chief of a Maori tribe in New Zealand. Her twin brother, who was to be the future chief, died along with the mother in childbirth. Grief-stricken, her father (Cliff Curtis) fled, leaving Pai as the only family descendant, but of course she can't be chief because she's a girl. That doesn't stop her from trying, though.

Her grandfather (Rawiri Paratene), a stern, traditionalist chief, loves Pai dearly, but refuses to mess with tradition by even attempting to train her to be the chief of the tribe, even though she truly believes she is meant to be chief. He begins to train first-born male sons of other tribesmen, but Pai eavesdrops, soaking up all the knowledge she can.

The first 2/3 of the movie is excellently done but fairly familiar. Pai is a terrific and instantly sympathetic character and we feel for her in her struggle to assert herself in the face of a sexist tradition without losing the love of her stern grandfather. Then, in the last third, when the whales actually come into play, the story enters territory that is thrillingly unpredictable and incredibly powerful.

The ending, in particular, has quite an emotional punch.

It also bears mentioning that Keisha Castle-Hughes is one of the best child actors I've seen in years; she will get some tears from you, guaranteed.

This is a great movie for kids, but it's not a "kid's movie". It's moving, beautifully filmed, and inspirational without being the slightest bit cheesy. It's worth seeking out even if you don't follow the art-house circuit.

Reviewed by Ezekiel 6 / 10

predictable but still eminently worth seeing

At first glance, Whale Rider seems to be just another PC flick affirming girls' ability to do or be anything that guys can do or be. The Maori setting gives it an exotic edge that many films in that category often lack; and it also provides a bit of distance from our own society that makes it seem a little less in-your-face than other formulaic battle-of-the-sexes PC stories. The cultural separation also makes it easier to accept the characters' actions and words more plausibly authentic than in other stories in that genre that are set in our own familiar settings whose characters feel more contrived and unnatural. So it is a clear notch above other stories aimed at shattering sexual discrimination. But in the end, it still occupies that formulaic PC niche.

Reviewed by Lee Eisenberg 10 / 10

a new outlook for Maori tradition

I heard about "Whale Rider" when it got released but never got around to seeing it. I finally have. What an impressive movie. It looks at a variety of topics: the Maoris' efforts to keep their culture alive, the issue of whether or not tradition is an impediment to social progress, and looking to one's history.

The protagonist is a girl named Pai. According to Maori tradition, only the first-born son can become leader. Pai's brother died after he was born, leaving her as the only descendant, and her grandfather does not want to change the tradition.

This is one of the few movies that I've seen focusing on the Maoris' traditions, and likely the only one focusing on their mythology (the title is based on the story that their ancestor arrived in New Zealand on the back of a whale). I saw it described as a family movie, probably since a child is the main character. It's a more serious movie than what we usually think of as family movies, but it also gives a sense of hope for the Maoris' future. Keisha Castle-Hughes received an Academy Award nomination for her role.

All in all, good movie. I recommend it. Niki Caro more recently directed "The Zookeeper's Wife".

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