This animated picture capitalizes on British carrier pigeons, German falcons, and a World War.
It is a tough decision to make a war story into a child-friendly animated offering such as “Valiant.” But overall, it seems to provide more appeal to the senior crowd whose sensibilities about war are more palpable than children who love to see more lovable or goofy characters on screen.
This family picture’s CGI animation looks okay in the foreground, but the backgrounds look pretty bland. Moreover, this feel-good flick’s overall visual execution could have tried to reach the level of appreciation of the children audience by pumping up the colors a bit more and making the visuals more catchy, considering the movie’s theme revolving around war and that kids are not that familiar with war’s more realistic details. It is quite understandable that the musical score tries to be in par with its war setting’s expected mood and vibe. However, this adds to the fact that the little kids and teens won’t find much to connect with in this semi-serious animated bird movie set in a world war.
Inspired by the true-to-life story of carrier pigeons trained to carry vital information to the allied forces across the English Channel during World War II, this tale centers on the life of Valiant (voice of Ewan McGregor), an ambitious but undersized wood pigeon who, despite his physical limitations, volunteers to fight for his country. He joins the Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS), an elite group of heroic carrier pigeons who risk their lives to deliver messages during World War II. Because the RHPS has been depleted and they are desperate for new recruits, Valiant is able to talk his way into the elite group’s F Squad. Valiant and the rest of the new recruits undergo rigorous training for their upcoming mission to fly to the occupied France and deliver a message from the French Resistance back to the London Headquarters. They meet with French Resistance mice Charles De Girl (voice of Sharon Horgan), master of sabotage Rollo (voice of Buckley Collum), and Resistance head Jacques (voice of Sean Samuels) to deliver the important message back to England. When the evil German Nazi falcon Gen. Von Talon (voice of Tim Curry) and his group of enemy falcons intercept the message, Valiant realizes he needs to get it back. At the same time, he needs to rescue his fellow F Squad from the hands of the falcons.
On the side, Valiant also finds some romantic encounters with the avian nurse Victoria (voice of Olivia Williams) and the French resistance agent Charles De Girl.
The voices of Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Tim Curry, Hugh Laurie, and Ricky Gervais try to be enthusiastic enough for the story’s needs. Anyone could have voiced these characters and they would have worked just the same — or possibly, even better. Valiant’s voice could have been a bit younger, not necessarily a little boy nor a superstar.
“Valiant” works as a harmless war movie honoring real-life animal heroes of war. It offers a few chuckles for kids, but its treatment favors the kids’ older companions more.