Valiant

Valiant

2005, G, 75 min. Directed by Gary Chapman. Voices by Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, Brian Lonsdale, Dan Roberts, John Cleese, John Hurt, Pip Torrens.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 19, 2005

Valiant, an animated adventure about heroic homing pigeons in Great Britain during World War II, comes flying in on a wing and a prayer. With flatly drawn CGI characters and backgrounds, a script and direction that make no special use of the impressive voice talent assembled, and historical subject matter that's not likely to find many enthusiasts beyond the white cliffs of Dover, the future of Valiant does not appear to be high-flying. Enough. The movie makes use of every avian pun possible, a pattern that becomes quickly monotonous and predictable, if not contagious. Valiant (voiced by McGregor) is a small bird who believes that what matters most is not the size of one's wingspan but the size of one's spirit, and so enlists in the RHPS: the Royal Homing Pigeon Service. He first has to convince his mother that it's time for him to leave the nest, then undergo basic training before he and his Squad F buddies are sent on a perilous mission behind enemy lines. Throughout it all he keeps a stiff upper beak. And speaking of beaks, they're difficult features to animate for dialogue without turning the birds' maws into Silly Putty distortions. In fact, pigeons, in general, are not regarded as the loftiest or most attractive of birds, which makes the task of rendering them anthropomorphic and lovable all the more difficult. Produced in England and already released there, Valiant is just now getting its U.S. premiere. The movie’s takeoffs on old war-movie and RAF-flyboy cliches will certainly not connect with the knowledge base of America’s current youngsters, which will only cause Valiant to seem that much more foreign. An epilogue tells us that pigeons saved the lives of thousands during the war, and that 31 of the 53 top honors given to England’s animal war heroes were awarded to pigeons. I know I shouldn’t smirk, but isn’t that kind of honor that Trafalgar Square is for?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Films
Us
Jordan Peele has met the enemy, and they is Us

Richard Whittaker, March 22, 2019

Level 16
Horror mystery used dread in a tale of the lies we tell young women

Danielle White, March 22, 2019

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Ash Is Purest White
The emotional cost of a life of crime across two decades in Northern China

March 22, 2019

The Wedding Guest
A simmering thriller of international abduction and pursuit

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Valiant, Gary Chapman

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle