Valiant (2005) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences (I'd rate it PG for some mild crude humor)
Running Time: 76 min.
Cast (voices): Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Hurt, Jonathan Ross,
Director: Gary Chapman
Screenplay: Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod
Amiable, but often boring, Valiant touches all of the bases you'd expect from today's 3D computer animated adventure movie. The only difference between this one and what has come before is the British production house, emulating the previous entries with precision, crafting a quality animated feature that holds up well compared to those with bigger budgets and more popular actors.
The title derives its name from the name of the main character himself, a small pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor, The Island) that has a dream to fight for the RHPS (Royal Homing Pigeon Service) in World War II. These pigeons use their skills to cross enemy lines and deliver much-needed messages, while also evading the nasty Nazi falcons that want to make a meal out of them. Trouble is, Valiant is a bit pint-sized, but he is determined enough to do what the big birds do. All he needs is the opportunity to prove himself.
Valiant does have a splendid cast of character actors, with terrific and energetic voice work from veterans like John Cleese (Complete Guide to Guys) , Tim Curry (Kinsey), and Jim Broadbent (Robots). The look and design of the film is top-notch through and through, with fluid animation, excellent individual character designs, and rich backgrounds.
As with almost all of the other CG animated features, there are lots of puns and quips, as every axiom and phrase involving birds are used, some of which are real groaners. The characters are fairly typical for a movie of this sort, with the main protagonist being the underdog, while he is surrounded by characters meant for comic relief.
For a first British release, it is a valiant attempt (no pun intended), but by playing things safe and predictable, it isn't exactly the must-see movie that all of the Pixar releases have been thus far. Kids may be mesmerized by the animation, but many adults may start to grow a bit restless for the film to reach its conclusion, which at about an hour and 15 minutes, is thankfully not too long in coming.
©2005 Vince Leo