2006-03-30 13:17


It's 1944 and a plucky little wood pigeon named Valiant (Ewan McGregor) has a burning ambition to join the elite Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS) and serve his country in the war against Nazi Germany by carrying vital messages over enemy lines. There's just one problem - he's half the minimum size required for RHPS recruits. Undeterred he flies to London and, with the help of Bugsy (Ricky Gervais), his smooth talking but smelly new friend, he convinces the recruiters that he's RHPS material. He and a band of other misfits are assigned to the lowly "Squad F", and put through their paces by Sergeant (Jim Broadbent). Sooner than they expect Squad F are given a vital mission, and must face the terror of the vicious enemy falcons led by the ruthless General Von Talon (Tim Curry).


Valiant can be summed up in just three words: "what a waste". John Williams, the much praised producer of Shrek and Shrek 2, has taken a great concept and wasted it on a second-rate team of filmmakers. In their hands what could have been a classic British animated adventure to rival the likes of Chicken Run becomes a dull-as-dishwater affair without one surprising moment in its entire length. To make matters worse the absolutely world class cast of voice actors has been left without one decent line to utter.

Of course it's not all bad and the filmmakers do deserve some credit for their character design and some good passages of animation. The characters all look marvellous and it's easy to see how much effort the animators have put into scenery and historical touches like clothes and aeroplanes.

But good-looking characters without anything interesting to say or do are of no use at all. With comic geniuses like John Cleese and Ricky Gervais on the cast you'd expect the film would be packed with dry English humour. Alas, the quality of the dialogue - funny or otherwise - is so poor that you can frequently hear the voice actors straining to squeeze some kind of life out of their lines. A large proportion of the "comedy" is run-of-the-mill slapstick that may please very young children but will bore everyone else.

The bad dialogue and lack of humour could be forgiven, if only the plot were the taut and exciting affair it deserves to be. Instead the story is not only cliched but muddled and badly paced. Characters are introduced, done away with and then resurrected without any apparent purpose. The climax is particularly disappointing and fails to generate even half the tension it promises.

Like the makers of the pretty-but-empty Robots, the makers of Valiant have failed to realise that it's the story, not the appearance, that drives a successful animated adventure film. Pixar Animation Studios (founded by Steve Jobs of Apple Computer fame) have proved this time and time again with classics like Finding Nemo and Toy Story. And until filmmakers realise this they will continue to play second fiddle to Pixar.

- Alistair Fairweather

This fluffy animated adventure about World War 2 carrier pigeons should keep the kids entertained, but it's an awful waste of some brilliant voice actors.

Welmi Graaff 2005/09/21 2:58 PM
Valiant I loved it, it was funny, and good, and my kids enjoyed it, theye want to go buy the DVD today. Thank u for wonderfull kids films. YES
bror 2006/05/18 11:06 AM
viliant sho bror meet the forckers
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