Directed by Niki Caro.
Written by Niki Caro. Based on the book by Witi Ihimaera.
Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene and Cliff Curtis.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 10/27/03
Let me make good on my intention to write
short reviews periodically: Why do so many theaters still have
“Whale Rider” playing in them?
After seeing the movie recently, I am a bit
baffled. The film, featuring a family in New Zealand that suffers
through a wife’s death during childbirth, the loss of a twin during
the same childbirth, and a cranky old-school father that is only
obsessed with passing on the family legacy to a son, certainly has
moments of striking emotional power, scenes that truly stand out as
great movie moments in not only this year but many others.
But, for the most part, it is a very slow,
very methodical family drama that features an up-and-down
performance from its lead, Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai, who carries
the film at points throughout but ultimately couldn’t keep me awake
for its 100-minute running time. I will grant you that some of this
is not the girl’s fault; it is the fault of some boring storytelling
at times, so boring that I know at least twice I fell asleep for
five-minute stretches. But, I simply grew tired of writer/director
Niki Caro’s insistence on painting Pai’s grandfather Koro (Rawiri
Paratene) as the evil “I think women are useless” sexist. After a
while, I got it, and I think it interfered with the flow to keep
beating it into my noggin.
As a result, I found myself waiting to see
when they would just show us why the damned thing was called “Whale
Rider” in the first place, and when it does come, I thought it was
quite powerful. Unfortunately, I was IRATE at how Pai makes it
through to the end of the film, which can only be understood by
seeing what happens after she mounts a whale in the film’s final
I thought this film was very average, but I
know many people out there loved it. Guess I’m just not a whale
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard