Reviewed by: Josh Morrall

Squawking the tale of Valiant (Ewan McGregor), a brave, if not so big, pigeon from the countryside who goes to war to "do my bit", this unfunny kids animation flaps around for 70 minutes before finally lifting off in the closing stages. The cream of British TV talent is on wing in an attempt to lure in the audience, but members of the public need to resist the urge to see this well conceived, yet poorly executed, film in order to save the flagging British film industry from future mistakes.

In order not to sound completely negative, Valiant is successful in some ways. One element that makes films like Finding Nemo so good is the charm and humour of the background characters. In Nemo, there were the seagulls, as well as the turtle dudes. In Valiant, there are hardly any such creatures to add a spark to the lifeless script, save a fat revolutionary mouse that fears nothing and screams "Sabotage!" at any hint of trouble. This is the funniest part of the film, yet is still mishandled. If the writers had had any sense, they would have worked this character into the body of the story.

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The other funny moment is towards the end, when our brave protagonist comes up against a showering General Von Talon (Tim Curry). Despite Curry being unconvincing and irritating most of the time, his rendition of Wagner, as Valiant tries to steal the key to the birdcage, works well. There is much going on in the scene and for once tension is successfully achieved. From this point on the film is classic animation, combining friends and family in a chase sequence between a tiny underdog and a ruthless enemy.

These two bright sparks of humour do not compensate for the hour and a half of punishment that remains. Bugsy's (a typecast Ricky Gervais) constant flatulence is not amusing. The filmmakers have clearly neglected to realise that fart jokes and slapstick are only successful when used in moderation.

All is quiet on Valiant's comedy front. The animation, especially in the night scenes above a torrid channel, is good quality and the idea of making a war film about a company of pigeons is original and inspired. Yet, the opportunity for numerous parodies (The Dam Busters, Reach For The Sky, etc) is missed completely and what is left is a poor excuse for an animated caper.

Reviewed on: 10 Apr 2005
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Valiant packshot
An unlikely hero leads the way in the Allied WWII victory.
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Read more Valiant reviews:

The Dude ****

Director: Gary Chapman

Writer: Jordan Katz, Matt Manfredi, George Melrod, based on a story by George Webster

Starring: voices of Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, John Cleese, Jim Broadbent, John Hurt, Rik Mayall, Olivia Williams, Hugh Laurie, Pip Torrens, Brian Lonsdale

Year: 2005

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK


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