Valiant

Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Valiant
Ricky Gervais as Bugsy
Tim Curry as Von Talon
Jim Broadbent as Sergeant
Hugh Laurie as Gutsy
John Cleese as Mercury
John Hurt as Felix
Pip Torrens as Lofty
Rik Mayall as Cufflingk
Olivia Williams as Victoria
Jonathan Ross as Big Thug
Brian Lonsdale as Toughwood
Dan Roberts as Tailfeather
Michael Schlingmann as Underlingk
Sharon Horgan as Charles De Girl

Summary:
Valiant is unique in that it features animal characters in a World War II setting, but it unfortunately ends up being only mediocre due to a lack of laughs, interesting characters, and an engaging story. Still, it will entertain kids for a time.

Story:
In the final days of World War II, carrier pigeons play a vital role in the war effort. They brave the harsh environment of the English Channel and attacks by German falcons in order to deliver communiqu├ęs between the French resistance and the Allies. However, with their numbers dangerously dwindling, the carrier pigeons must find some new recruits.

Valiant is a young, small pigeon that is eager to join the Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service. Despite his diminutive size, he has the spirit of a fighter. He goes into basic training with a band of reluctant misfits and even falls in love with a nurse dove. But before completing his training, Valiant finds himself thrown into his first mission. Will he save the day or will the British become goose-stepping Nazis?

Valiant is rated G.

What Worked:
I took the whole family to see Valiant and it was more or less a pleasant outing. We all enjoyed the film and the kids seemed entertained the whole time. Valiant wasn’t a great movie at all, but it wasn’t a bad one either. The film is very, very British and some background knowledge of WWII and carrier pigeons goes a long way in understanding what’s going on and enjoying the joke. Obviously my toddlers didn’t understand a thing about WWII, carrier pigeons, or much else, so they had to be entertained solely by the antics of the pigeons and the computer animation. This only goes so far, but it was fortunately enough to keep them busy.

I didn’t find the movie to be really entertaining until Valiant was dropped behind enemy lines, and that occurred in the last 20 minutes or so of the movie. There’s a cool scene as the pigeon’s bomber flies into heavy anti-aircraft fire and is shot down. Later on the pigeons are chased through a French village by one of the German falcons. This offers up some exciting scenes as they fly around the buildings. The animation is decent, but there’s nothing noticeably groundbreaking. The pigeons have detailed feathers that look good.

The voice cast features a lot of big names, but unfortunately none of them bring anything very unique to their characters. The cast includes Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt, and Olivia Williams among others.

What Didn’t Work:
Valiant is overall disappointingly average. The story is only mildly entertaining and it doesn’t even get rolling until the last 20 minutes of the film. The voice cast is OK and even John Cleese is only mediocre. There are no good songs and the animation doesn’t do anything special. To top it all off, the trailers and commercials show almost all of the funny or exciting parts of the film.

The Bottom Line:
If you need to entertain kids for an hour or so, Valiant will get the job done. But despite a strong cast and an interesting concept, the movie is only average.

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