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You can tell how much faith a movie studio has in its product not only in the amount of advertising for a certain title but how nice of a package the eventual DVD release contains. In the case of features-happy Disney, Valiant barely registers more than a blip on its huge radar screen.


DVD reveals studio's lack of enthusiasm
DVD reveals studio’s lack of enthusiasm

The movie itself is typical fare about overcoming physical shortcomings to prove just how special one can be, no matter how stacked the odds. In this case, the overcomer is a young pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) who wants to join the Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS) and defend England during World War II.

Everyone tells him he is too small except for overhyped hero Wing Commander Gutsy (Ricky Gervais) who encourages him to join despite his size. Valiant lands in basic training with the slobbish Bugsy (Hugh Laurie) and is rushed into service to help deliver a Very Important Message because the Allies are getting desperate. Not to give anything away, but the movie begins in May 1944.

Since this is a story we have seen over and over again, one would hope that it would leave lots of room for character development. That does not happen here. In fact, the movie runs at a brisk 76 minutes, which barely gives us enough time to learn more about Valiant and his feathered buddies.

Instead, we get the same stereotypes brought to us from World War II movies past, right down to the evil Nazi falcon Von Talon (Tim Curry) who is more laughable than anything else. Von Talon’s interrogations of the captive Mercury (John Cleese) only get in the way of the story.

Picture and Sound

The computer animation and sound in Valiant is quite sharp, but too sharp in reminding us why pigeons are not considered one of the prettier creatures in the animal kingdom. It will also make you wonder how many body odor jokes could be crammed into a G-rated feature.

The dearth of special features makes you wonder if Disney will bother double-dipping in the near future since all you get is a bloopers real and a painfully easy interactive game. The bloopers last no longer than five minutes, and bloopers in an animated feature seem silly anyway since the best bloopers are totally unscripted.

But since they worked so well in the Toy Story movies, I suppose everyone who makes animated movies feels obligated to include them.

Valiant is not a terrible movie; it is one of those mediocre ones that you forget, just minutes after you see it. And the DVD release agrees with it.