A Valiant Attempt
This may not sound much praise but children's animation "Valiant" gets one thing right, at 76 minutes it is the right length. Sadly the right length does not make up for the fact that it feels like a factory line movie, put together not because anyone saw great potential but purely to turn a profit. And as such it feels quite inferior especially when you compare it to other digital animations which attract a similar amount of talent behind the scenes because it does have talent. To put it simply "Valiant" will probably keep very young children entertained for an hour but not those who enjoy the bells & whistles of other more recent digital animations which stick in your mind long after they have finished.
Young pigeon Valiant idolizes the carrier pigeons that are part of the war effort, risking their necks to fly messages from the front line back to head office. So when he learns that the Royal Homing Pigeon Service is in need of new recruits he flits down to London to enlist and along the way meets street smart Bugsy who also ends up enlisting. But before their training is over Valiant, Bugsy and the other new recruits are sent on a mission to bring back a crucial message which could win Britain the war, all they have to do is avoid being captured by Von Talon and his vicious Falcons.
Now ironically I actually like the idea to "Valiant", a fictional war tale about homing pigeons yet that maybe part of the trouble why for some it just doesn't work. Maybe I am wrong but to me this is a movie which targets young audiences the under 10s but what under ten is going to really get what the story is about, a young pigeon who enrols and ends up going off to war as a homing pigeon. For me it's more of a story which will appeal to those who know a little about the 2nd World War and pick up on all those subtle jokes which mimic iconic images from the time, such as a poster which declares the HMPS needs you. Maybe it was the attention to make "Valiant" as an animation to appeal to older children who have learnt some knowledge of the war but if that is the case it fails.
Now the reason why it fails is two fold and the first of which is whilst we get various characters from young Valiant to Bugsy and so on you don't really connect to any of them. And you don't connect to them because they seem so dull and isolated from each other. What I mean is in a scene where Valiant is being tended to by Nurse Victoria it sounds like the actors were just reading their lines in solitary and when they are put together it doesn't feel connected. I could be wrong, maybe they were recording their voices at the same time but it does literally feels like those actors doing the voice work phoned it in.
But the other reason that "Valiant" fails is that it is boring and boring because it's not funny. I can't even remember a joke which made me laugh and whilst most of it is simple visual slapstick sort of humour it feels very routine. Maybe younger audiences will enjoy all the simple slapstick as Valiant is a bit accident prone but none of it is memorable. And sadly neither are the actual animations which again feel quite plain.
Now the irony of all this is that I should like "Valiant" because it is an animation which tries to tell a story, a simple one but the focus is on this story, this wartime adventure. But because it seems such a mixed up movie with humour which is aimed at young children but with a storyline for older children it doesn't work. And because the focus is on the story rather than over impressive graphics it feels lack lustre. In fact as an adult watching the only really thing which ended up appealing is working out which actors did the voice work such as John Cleese, Tim Curry, Hugh Laurie and Ewan McGregor.
What this all boils down to is that "Valiant" is to be honest disappointing partly because it is so ordinary and forgettable but also because it seems to have a storyline for young teens aimed at an under ten audience. Its one saving grace is that at just 76 minutes it is the right length and thankfully no one felt the need to try and drag it out to the 90 minute mark.