Valiant is a 2005 computer-animated children's film directed by Gary Chapman and produced by John H. Williams, who formerly produced Shrek and Shrek 2. To produce this one, he founded Vanguard Animation, which would later produce Happily N'Ever After and Space Chimps.
It is May 1944, in the midst of World War II. A team of Royal Homing Pigeon Service carrier pigeons, headed by Mercury (John Cleese), are carrying a message of vital importance across the English Channel to Great Britain, when they're suddenly ambushed by German falcon General Von Talon (Tim Curry), and Mercury is taken prisoner and interrogated. Meanwhile, the eponymous Valiant (Ewan McGregor) is a young pigeon of small stature in West Nestington who aspires to be a carrier pigeon himself. Heading to London to sign up, he meets with perpetually filthy pigeon Bugsy (Ricky Gervais), who signs up alongside him to escape the wrath of two thugs. The two go to the training camp and meet three more pigeons; Lofty, Toughwood and Tailfeather, and the five undergo training under the thumb of the aptly named Sergeant Monty (Jim Broadbent). Valiant also falls in love with a nurse (a dove) named Victoria (Olivia Williams). Once training is completed, the five are para-dropped into France on a mission to take a message from Rollo and Charles de Girl, of the French Resistance. When the message is captured by the Falcons, it is vital to rescue it from Von Talon's clutches and get that message back to Britain...
Despite being a CG children's film, which at the time were practically becoming lightning rods for positive reviews, and despite including stellar voice talents, the film became the lowest grossing CG film of all time until beaten by Doogal. It also did poorly with the critics (31% on Rotten Tomatoes), who cited amateurish animation, a by-the-numbers plot, a bland central character and subject matter that would fly over the heads of its intended audience as points of derision.
Not to be confused The Legend of Prince Valiant if such a thing were possible.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Prologue: The film opens with Mercury and two pigeons on a flight over the English Channel, where they are attacked by Von Talon and Mercury is captured.
- Animal Talk: Pigeons, falcons and mice can talk to each other.
- Badass Cape: Von Talon wears a leather one.
- Big Bad: General Von Talon is the main antagonist, plotting to intercept our heroes' message to the Allied Forces.
- Blatant Lies: Von Talon claims he's vegetarian while chewing a pigeon bone.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rollo, the Resistance's sabotage expert has strong Pyromaniac tendencies, but he's kept around because... well, that's exactly what they need him to do.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Nope. They're under-funded, ill-equipped and questionably sane, but their courage and skill are unquestionable.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The film shows Mercury being tortured with Yodeling. It's treated like the sonic equivalent of thumbscrews, and Mercury's ability to withstand it unsettles even General Von Talon.
- Disney Death: Gutsy apparently crashes with the group's transport plane, then shows up later in the movie, injured but alive.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Monty.
- Eating the Enemy: This is what German falcons do to the English messenger pigeons once they've intercepted their messages.
- Eyepatch of Power: General Von Talon has one of these.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Who do you think trained those falcons?
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: Basically the center of the whole film.
- Knight of Cerebus: Despite some hammy moments, Von Talon is quite a sinister villain since he's basically an animal version of a real life Nazi war criminal in an otherwise family oriented cartoon. We also discover that he killed and/or ate various Allied pigeons. Some of'em are also stuffed as a sort of Creepy Souvenir.
- Large Ham: Tim Curry as typical. Also counts as Evil Is Hammy.
- Loud of War: Von Talon tries to get Mercury to tell him the message by blasting him with annoying yodeling music.
- National Animal Stereotypes:
- The German falcons. Germany, especially Nazi Germany, often used birds of prey in their heraldry (although Nazi heraldry typically depicted eagles rather than falcons).
- The pigeons are English and the mice are French, which is not the usual nation-species pairing, but it serves the plot. Both species are natural prey of falcons, just like how both nations were attacked by Nazi Germany.
- Noble Bird of Prey: Averted with the falcons—they're birds of prey, but they're ANYTHING but noble.
- No Swastikas: No swastikas are seen in Von Talon's lair nor on his uniforms; possibly because this is a children's film.
- Red Shirt: The two pigeons accompanying Mercury in the opening, who are killed with little fanfare by Von Talon.
- La Résistance: Rollo and Charles de Girl.
- "Ride of the Valkyries": Von Talon sings "Pin on my medals... PIN ON MY MEDEALS..." to the tune of this whilst showering.
- Shout-Out: While the falcons take a pigeon to a cage he says this quote: "Get your talons off me you filthy falcons!" which is a reference to the 1968 film, Planet of the Apes.
- Shown Their Work: The Germans did indeed train falcons to intercept carrier pigeons during WWII.
- Singing in the Shower: Von Talon does this while humming "Ride of the Valkyries".
- Those Wacky Nazis: The falcons symbolize this.
- Truth Serum: When the yodeling doesn't work, Von Talon gives him one of these.