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VALIANT (G) (2005)

Disney

Official Site

Director: Gary Chapman

Producers: John Williams

Written by: Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt, Pip Torrens, Rik Mayall, Olivia Williams

Rating:


Do you remember that weird old rooster from Chicken Run? The one who kept talking about his glory days in the RAF? Well, someone must have seen that and thought, “We can make a whole movie off that concept, except let’s make it about homing pigeons so nobody can sue us.” Somehow, John Williams (producer of Shrek and Shrek 2) got snuck onto this project to soak up some of his legitimacy. After months of animation and tireless effort from the voice actors, a short film about patriotic pigeons and evil falcons entered our world. I’m pretty sure that’s the most accurate account of the conception of Valiant that exists today.

Did you know that homing pigeons can have an inborn sense of duty? Valiant (McGregor) hears the call to duty to Britain’s sons and decides he must sign up to serve in the RHPS (Royal Homing Pigeon Service). He may be a small pigeon, but he makes up for it in spirit. Along the way he “makes” a friend who enlists with him and he gets shipped out to receive the most intensive training a pigeon could get. Somehow, he falls in love with the nurse there. Whatever. The appearance of Gutsy (the famous hero of the RHPS), and the news from the front that he brings, catapults this group of ragtag misfits into action. They are dropped behind enemy lines to meet with the local resistance and carry a message of utmost importance back to Allied hands. Oh yes, and while this has been happening, evil falcons have been trying to torture and drug John Cleese into divulging sensitive information, hiding him deep inside their coastal fortress bunker dungeon pillbox palace place.

So, you can see that I’m unimpressed with this film. It’s very much a kid’s movie. It’s made for kids, will be marketed to kids, and is basically just for kids. Everything is too shakily thrown together to make a quality movie. There’s a small army of minor characters you never really get to know, there’s no plot development, and there’s nothing really interesting about anyone you do get to know (like Valiant). From the French resistance mice to the drill sergeant, everyone is given an interesting sort of quirk, but no attention is ever paid to it and the characters sink into the background and then sink out of memory. That’s not really any fun; it’s like going to a party and meeting everyone, sharing 10 words, and then leaving. And the plot! Oh, the plot. This movie definitely had a sequence of events, but that’s just what happens when one scene ends and another begins. Valiant is the simple story of how courage made a small pigeon a hero. Complexities would only get in the way.

Valiant shows every reason why Disney should not make war movies. Or maybe it’s that war movies shouldn’t be kid’s movies. Yeah, that’s it! I’m not gonna sit here and preach about how we shouldn’t desensitize our children to violent imagery, but seriously, what the hell? World War II is just the wrong place to set a children’s story. The most excessive culmination of multinational violence just doesn’t seem like the best way to bring forward principles of courage and honor in youth. If you’re going to make a fantasy world where a young pigeon named Valiant tempers chivalry and valor from his raw ideals, then don’t base it off the darkest chapter in our world. Please? Is that too much to ask? But whatever, these things won’t matter to the children who watch it anyway. I guess I’m just getting old and cranky… but is it too much to ask that you don’t degrade or demean a war when you make a movie involving it?

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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