'Valiant' Synopsis

Valiant,” an exciting new computer-animated film presented by Walt Disney Pictures, from Vanguard Animation, and producer John Williams (“Shrek” and “Shrek 2”), is the high-flying comedy adventure tale of a brave-but-undersized pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) who dreams of joining the elite Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS), and serving crown and country during World War II. Despite his small stature, Valiant’s ambitions are enormous as he keeps a stiff upper beak and endures rigorous training in preparation for a dangerous mission to deliver vital messages to troops behind enemy lines. With a shortage of wingpower in the royal fleet due to increased attacks by a brigade of vicious enemy falcons (led by the ruthless General Von Talon), the mission falls to Valiant and the unlikely heroes of “Squad F” to try and save the day. With a wing and a prayer, Valiant and his fine feathered pals fly into harm’s way and prove that it’s not the size of the wingspan that counts, but the size of the spirit. Filled with action, humor, emotion and memorable characters, “Valiant” delivers great entertainment for audiences of all ages. This imaginative feature was inspired by the fact that pigeons saved thousands of lives during the war, and 31 of the 53 top honors given to animal heroes went to pigeons.

Valiant” brings together a top-flight vocal cast of British favorites including Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Tim Curry, John Cleese, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Williams and Rik Mayall.

For thousands of years, men have turned to pigeons to carry messages in times of need. In the Second World War, pigeons played a crucial role for the Allied forces by delivering key dispatches from behind enemy lines.

During a dark and stormy night over the English Channel, we see three members of the elite Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS) en route to deliver their messages. However, just as they come within sight of the famed White Cliffs of Dover, a dark shadow crashes down to stop them.

Back at the headquarters in London, word comes that none of the homing pigeons have made it back alive. Gutsy (voiced by Hugh Laurie), the iconic hero of the RHPS, realizes that the losses from German falcons guarding the Channel have been heavy and that new birds are needed to fill the thinning ranks.

Far from the heavy backdrop of the war, a group of pigeons watch a newsreel at a small waterside pub in rural England. The newsreel shows the glorious life of the RHPS elite as they deliver messages, enjoy the good life, and meet the nursing doves. Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) watches the film and knows that this is what he wants to do. As Valiant talks to Felix (voiced by John Hurt), the warm but crusty publican, about his goal to be a homing pigeon, the pub is surprised by the impromptu arrival of an RHPS squad, including Valiant’s personal hero, Gutsy. The members of the RHPS are on a recruiting drive and Valiant is eager to follow their encouragement, although everyone in the pub chides him as being too little.

Valiant eagerly sets off to join the RHPS, though his doting mother fights to keep her little baby home. He flies into London and inadvertently rescues an artful dodger named Bugsy (voiced by Ricky Gervais) from impending trouble. In return, Bugsy helps Valiant squeeze through the process of enlisting in the RHPS, but gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself unexpectedly along for the ride. Valiant and Bugsy are set to become part of a ragtag group of misfit recruits which includes Lofty (voiced by Pip Torrens), who has come down from Oxford to carry on his proud family tradition of serving in the military (although he is a bit more of a nerdy scholar than chiseled warrior) and the twins, Toughwood (voiced by Brian Lonsdale) and Tailfeather (voiced by Dan Roberts), who make up with enthusiasm and strength what they lack in smarts.

With good intentions and dreams of a hero’s life, the new recruits arrive at the base and come face-to-face with the harsher realities of military life when they meet their new drill sergeant, Sarge (voiced by Jim Broadbent), a grizzled and gruff veteran pigeon determined to weed out any bad recruits. Under his tough direction, the pigeons of “Squad F” must learn what it takes to become military homing pigeons and members of a team. While the tough training results in some bumps and bruises, Valiant finds the blows softened by the lovely nursing dove, Victoria (voiced by Olivia Williams).

After a few weeks, even though the recruits still have much to learn in order to succeed as homing pigeons, Gutsy arrives with bad news: another squad has gone missing, and the recruits will have to go into service even though they are not ready. The recruits are sent on their mission to occupied France where they will need to meet up with members of the Resistance and obtain a message that they must deliver back to England.

But the mission quickly unravels over enemy territory and our recruits find themselves lost and leaderless behind enemy lines. Will they be able to retrieve the message and deliver it back to headquarters? How will they survive the perils of their mission, including the pigeon-eating falcons lead by the dreaded General Von Talon (voiced by Tim Curry)? Will Valiant and his friends have the courage and strength to face their fears and the dark forces of war in order to fulfill their duties? Will Valiant come back to win his nursing dove’s love?

All that and more is revealed in this lofty and hilarious animated family comedy about a little pigeon coming of age in a world bigger than he had imagined, when everyone was telling him he was too little to make a difference.

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