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Gary Chapman
Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, John Cleese, John Hurt, Pip Torrens
Writing Credits:
Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod

Some pigeons eat crumbs, others make history.

The whole world is looking for a hero, and it's up to a little pigeon named Valiant to step up and bravely serve his country. Valiant (Ewan McGregor) and his fine, feathered friends take to the sky on a wing and a prayer to prove that it's not your wingspan but the size of your spirit that truly counts. Together this rag-tag squadron of birdbrains engages in hilarious aerial adventures at a spitfire pace. From the first bumbling day of basic training through the final feather-raising mission, the flock of comical characters swoops their way toward victory. From the producer of Shrek and Shrek 2, Valiant delivers stunning animation, a top-flight voice cast, and an action-packed story loaded with laughs. It's a soaring family comedy that truly earns its wings.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.914 million on 2014 screens.
Domestic Gross
$19.447 million.

Rated G

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 12/13/2005

• Bloopers
• “Valiant Training Challenge” Game
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Valiant (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 11, 2006)

Anyone else remember when new Disney animated flicks were an event? It wasn’t that long ago, as the studio’s resurgence in the Nineties made each premiere a big deal. However, the decline in their success rate and the prominence of animation from other studios killed this feeling. The studio will push some of their releases hard, but others they do little more than abandon into the marketplace.

That’s what happened to 2005’s Valiant. Normally the studio tries to space out their animated releases, but they made the odd choice to put out Valiant only a couple of months before the arrival of Chicken Little. The latter got all the press, and the timing seemed intended to make sure Valiant got as little notice as possible.

And audiences certainly avoided Valiant. The movie snared a mere $19 million in the US. Since it wasn’t a Disney production – they picked up the rights from the UK creators – it didn’t dent them too much, but it still seemed like a big dud.

Not that I’m sure how anyone thought such a peculiarly British production would go over well in the States. Set in 1944, Valiant looks at the Royal Homing Pigeon Service, an elite force of birds used to carry messages during World War II. Losses dwindle their ranks, so they seek out new fliers. Little Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) longs to join up, but others deride his desire due to his diminutive size.

Nonetheless, Valiant goes to the try-outs. On the way, he runs into a street con man named Bugsy (Ricky Gervais) who accompanies Valiant to escape some of the birds he tricked. Bugsy doesn’t want to sign up, but his impending doom leaves him little choice. They meet the other new recruits and go through training on route to their service.

In the meantime, we see what happens to PPOWs (Pigeon Prisoners of War). The Nazi birds capture Mercury (John Cleese) and try to find out the identity of his contact in the French resistance. General Von Talon (Tim Curry) leads the interrogation. The two sides connect when Valiant’s team gets the mission to interact with the resistance.

If nothing else, Valiant deserves credit for its unusual subject matter. An action comedy about carrier pigeons during WWII isn’t the kind of topic that seems ripe for the picking. That makes Valiant a clever piece as it takes on such a quirky focus.

Not that its approach to the material seems especially creative. We get a lot of the usual exploration of characters. Valiant nods in the direction of other war flicks and features fairly stock characters. How many times have we seen the little guy who needs to overcome his impediments to save the day? Plenty, and the other roles aren’t particularly creative either.

That said, Valiant offers a reasonable amount of fun. It boasts a pretty nice cast of veterans like Cleese and Curry, and some of the younger actors also do well. Gervais – better known to Brit audiences than Yanks – proves especially memorable in his loose, rambling turn as Bugsy. McGregor seems unmemorable in the lead, but the others fill out their parts nicely.

Valiant comes with just enough cleverness and quirkiness to make it enjoyable. At no point does it threaten to turn into an animated classic, but it musters decent comedy and entertainment to sustain it through its 76 minutes.

The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus D

Valiant appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Don’t expect any problems from this excellent transfer.

Sharpness appeared flawless throughout the film. The movie always seemed perfectly crisp and detailed with no signs whatsoever of any softness or haziness to be found. I also detected no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge enhancement seemed absent. No source flaws appeared either, as the image was totally clean.

Valiant used a varied palette, and the colors came through with fine richness and boldness. From start to finish, all of the hues seemed gorgeous. At no point did I discern any problems related to colors; they appeared absolutely scintillating.

Black levels also were deep and dense. They offered no signs of murky or muddy qualities, and I also saw excellent contrast. Shadow detail appeared clear and appropriately opaque throughout all of the related scenes. All in all, this was a top-notch transfer.

Although not quite as strong, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Valiant proved more than satisfying. The soundfield seemed broad and engaging. For the most part, the forward spectrum dominated, but the entire package was well-distributed and nicely balanced. It's a pretty seamless mix that spread the audio cleanly between the various channels. The sound blended together neatly so that the environment seemed smooth and convincing.

Various auditory elements appeared precisely located in the spectrum. Even dialogue was focused in the correct locations across the front speakers, and we also heard some speech from the rear when appropriate. The surrounds contributed excellent reinforcement of the information and also used split-channel details quite effectively. Unsurprisingly, battle sequences offered most of the vivid material, and they created a nice sense of environment.

Equally solid was the quality of the audio. All of the speech in Valiant appeared warm and natural, with no signs of shrillness or concerns related to intelligibility. Music sounded clear and smooth, with solid range. Effects appeared accurate and realistic and showed no signs of distortion or harshness. The track boasted fine resolution and depth. The track lacked the level of activity to get up to “A” level, but it was still a strong piece.

Only a few minor supplements appear here. We find a collection of Bloopers. This 59-second piece shows the usual fake mistakes pioneered back with A Bug’s Life. They’re not very entertaining.

We also discover the Valiant Training Challenge. The first part of this game requires you to pick the correct flying formations for various scenarios, and the next one prompts you to hit left, right or enter at the appropriate cue. For the final piece, you need to hit arrows quickly in response to visuals. The last one is the only part of the game that presents a challenge since the arrows fly past fairly quickly. Otherwise this is a simple contest without much to interest most.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Lady and the Tramp, Toy Story 2, The Wild and The Shaggy Dog. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with clips for Studio Ghibli Films, Kronk’s New Groove, Sky High, Bambi II and Power Rangers SPD.

A fairly standard action comedy with an unusual focus, Valiant proves reasonably entertaining. It possesses enough personality and wit to make it winning, but don’t expect anything particularly memorable. The DVD offers excellent visuals and very good audio but it skimps on extras. This one merits a rental for animation fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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