Sabotage!

[Note: This Blu-ray is exclusive to the Disney Movie Club]

During World War II, Disney survived primarily on training and propaganda films, a necessity when the foreign market collapsed under Nazi rule. In an indirect, unofficial way, Valiant comes across as an extension of that era, with a story about talking carrier pigeons. The way Valiant deals with war, purely G-rated, glossy, and non-violent, can only be seen as softening the reality, even when designed for children.

Were Valiant released by anyone other than Disney, it’s unlikely to even warrant mention

Valiant skews young, although it’s a wonder how many kids near kindergarten age will grasp the historical context, or how many parents want to explain the Nazi’s grotesque campaign to children that young. They may need to after (or during) Valiant. The ending references Normandy, and text before the credits mention medals given to real world animals for their contribution.

Consider themes of bravery too, typical material, although in context the, “for queen and country” feels hopelessly dated – again, pairing to Disney’s WWII output. Valiant chooses not to lean into it, rather play its story straight and ineffectively.

Valiant himself (Ewan McGregor) fights self-doubt more than he does Germans, a listless protagonist, and one of the studio’s least memorable. Inspiring, maybe, but Valiant’s brief flight doesn’t allow the time needed to sell key dramatic moments. Rather, it wades into goofy excursions where the comic relief pigeon fawns for a rebel female mouse, which in Valiant’s world must be a possibility; don’t ask how.

The 2000s were rough on Disney. Valiant represents those struggles outwardly, technically droll and sputtering out early as the story falls to derivative comic tropes. The studio once ruled animation; in the ’00s, they lagged behind everyone. Like Disney’s direct-to-video sequels, there’s a better TV show in Valiant than a movie. Certainly the episodic nature suggests a weekly narrative, and a runtime barely passing 70-minutes (merciful in this case) is ready made for a first season opener.

Were Valiant released by anyone other than Disney, it’s unlikely to even warrant mention amid contemporary rivals like Shrek or Ice Age. Dated those may be, but this flat they are not.

Video

Understanding the source animation’s limitations, Valiant’s Blu-ray debut looks fine. Posterization in the backgrounds is common, but the disc isn’t to blame. Disney’s encoding doesn’t show at all, transparent to the digital materials.

Limited texture smothers things like feathers, leaving them flat. Minimal computing power (compared to now anyway) keeps details puny, even wide shots which often stick with 2D, flat imagery for their virtual sets. This HD presentation shows them in full, better or worse.

While contrast shows strength and black levels recede nicely to the deepest shadows, color saturation dries out. Primaries lack punch, exhibiting a pastel aesthetic. Inside the German bunkers, the dramatic purples represent the best of the lot. Fringing on pigeon feathers produce light pinks and blues, something to notice in an otherwise bland palette.

Audio

All of the flying action means plentiful motion throughout this DTS-HD track. It’s energetic and lively, wide in its spacing, plus accurate to the visuals. It’s fun, enthusiastic, and consistent. Inside the plane, engines fill the soundstage as explosions find room in rears and stereos. An empty church echoes voices flawlessly.

Moderate low-end support adds weight to the score and occasional major action scene. Small flak blasts bring mild thrust.

Extras

Nothing.

Valiant
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Valiant’s listlessness can’t even achieve equal measure to Disney’s manic WWII propaganda films.

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The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 25 Valiant screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 120,000+ already in our library), 120 exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, subscribe on Patreon.