UK release date: Mar 26 2008

cast list

Ewan McGregor
Ricky Gervais
Tim Curry

directed by
Gary Chapman
This is a children’s computer generated film, which will certainly keep the adults entertained. If you love old war films such as The Dambusters, The Longest Day and Reach for the Sky then this is definitely the film for you.

For Valiant is a war film disguised as a children’s cartoon, er, with pigeons as the stars.

Valiant, the main character (voiced by Ewan McGregor) is an undersized, pigeon with a big heart and even bigger ambition. Britain is at war and Valiant aims to join the elite homing pigeon service, which brings secret messages to and from enemy territory. His unwitting sidekick is Bugsy (voiced by Ricky Gervias) who is not as straight as he should be.

Valiant discovers Gervais’ dishevelled but content pigeon conning other birds out of their seed in Trafalgar Square. But despite these unpromising signs Valiant convinces Bugsy to help him enter the homing pigeon service. Ricky Gervais’ voice is not a complete success, it is too weak to carry without the aid of his lugubrious presence his unique brand of comedy, though it does suit the laid back attitude that Bugsy has to life.

The film has all the usual cliched characters that populate war films. There is the sexy resistance worker – in this case a mouse – and the friendly pigeons who join Valiant in his attempts to succeed as a homing pigeon. Also the strict, but eventually fair training sergeant and of course the love interest, in this case thay are a nurse and a dove.

There is also the requisite baddie, a German falcon complete with leather coat and medals, voiced with great relish by Tim Curry. Among the minor characters are some great cameos, notably one by John Cleese, who plays a pigeon injected with truth serum with hilarious results, and Hugh Laurie as the stiff upper lip air ace who initially inspires Valiant.

This CG film is not as successful as some, most notably those from the Pixar stable. It lacks the emotion and the full-on comedy of films such as Toy Story and Shrek. However, it is beautifully animated, especially the feathers and fur on the animals. It is also often quite moving: when the pigeons fly over the rough English Channel and spy the White Cliffs of Dover it is hard to remember that this is a cartoon and all too easy to lose yourself in the adventure.

All in all this is a children’s film which will amply entertain adults. You will find yourself cheering Valiant and his chums, booing the baddies and swallowing a lump in your throat as you reach the obligatory happy ending. But it is not a great animation that you will remember in years to come, unlike some of the war movies it parodies.

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