Saturday, August 13, 2005


Lending his voice to an animated feature film the second time this year, Ewan McGregor "stars" as the title character Valiant, a pee-wee little pigeon whose aspiration is to join the Allies' Royal Homing Pigeons brigade in WWII. You see, it's not the size of your wings, but the size of your spirit, the mantra in which he subscribes to.

The opening credits is creative (like the board game Risk), but the storyline is plain and simple, a "I-wannabe-in-the-army-sent-on-a-mission" fare. Valiant and his team of misfits (aren't they always?) enroll in the Corps when they hear the plea for fresh blood to populate its ranks, as the war wears on and casualties are high. The usual army training scenes with the usual funny antics plug the story while a subplot goes on with The Falcons (Axis Powers - presumably the Luftwaffe), their mortal enemy, torturing a POW (pigeon-of-war, duh) to obtain information on the origins of the pigeon's messages.

The war cuts short our squadron's training, and they're thrown into the deep end of things. The trailer featured 2 French rats who are part of Le Resistance, in hilarious moments and thrilling set pieces, but alas, it seemed a tad too short. The joke's on one of the rats too, whose called Charles De Girl (she's female you see).

With a notable British cast, like Jim Broadbent and Tim Curry, the language and the usual dry wit might not be familiar with the local audiences. There is a distinct flaw in the script however, when one of the pigeons quoted the Geneva Convention, which was non-existent during the movie's timeline.

That aside, the animation itself is flawless, and I think there is a deliberate attempt to steer clear of drawing the pigeons in an overly cutesy manner (probably, perhaps extended to only Valiant). The backgrounds are beautiful though, with the realism seen in the depiction of the choppy waters of the English Channel, and the scene at Trafalgar Square. I wonder who's stylish idea it was to adorn the pigeons with a pair of Ray-Bans though.

Unlike many animated films in recent years, there is a lack of "adultness" in the story of Valiant. Strictly an animation targeted solely at the kids, even its duration runs at a child friendly 70 minutes.

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