The Blizzard of Oz Blogathon – The Whale Rider (2002)


This is my first of 3 entries in the Blizzard of Oz Blogathon being hosted by Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In.

Tnx for letting me partake Quiggy!

“A long time ago, my ancestor Paikea came to this place on the back of a whale. Since then, in every generation of my family, the first born son has carried his name and become the leader of our tribe… until now.” – Paikea

Number of Times Seen – 1 (17 Jun 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A young Maori girl who has the lineage of being a Chief tries to convince her culture to accept her and allow her to train as a chief even tough she is female.

My Take on it – This is a film that I’ve been avoiding for years because it just didn’t seem interesting enough of a premise to me.

When Quiggy announced this blogathon, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to see what it was all about.

Unfortunately, my suspicions were right and I fund this Maori coming of age story to be extremely bland and boring instead of inspirational on any level.

The story progresses in a very unrealistic fashion and even though the main idea is unique due to its Maori setting, something feel off the entire time that would have made things more interesting and poignant.

The idea of gender equality in the Maori society when choosing a chief is a solid idea yet this film doesn’t manage to take it to the next stage which might have made things more enjoyable and instead choose the simple path which stays very bland.

Keisha Castle-Hughes is fine in the lead role but I’m not convinced that she does anything here truly warranting an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

It’s commendable tho that she became the youngest Best Actress nominee ever even if I think this performance isn’t so great and held that title for over a decade until she was surpassed by Quvenzhané Wallis who was 9 in her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Perhaps part of my issue is the fact that I’m quite unfamiliar with the Maori culture and its rules, but in any case, this film fails to tell an inspirational tale and falls quite short of that goal.

Bottom Line – Really boring coming of age story that fails to be inspirational on any level. The way that the story progresses doesn’t feel realistic enough despite the overall idea being unique since it deals with how Maoris would be dealing with a female who wants to take on a traditional male role. Castles-Hughes is fine  in the lead role, but her performance doesn’t feel as exceptional as many would make you believe especially given the fact that she became the youngest actress to receive an Oscar nomination as Best Lead Actress.  Perhaps my lack of knowledge of the Maori culture takes away from things here, but I expected to watch a very inspiration film that in the end falls quite short.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Much of the film is about Paikea doing traditional Maori things women were not supposed to do, like sitting in the canoe and fighting. The cast and crew performed special Maori chants to ward off traditional bad luck that might arise from Keisha Castle-Hughes doing those things. (From IMDB)

Rating – Razzie Worthy (4/10)

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2 thoughts on “The Blizzard of Oz Blogathon – The Whale Rider (2002)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 2002 | MovieRob

  2. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Actress – Oscars 2003 | MovieRob

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