As far as internet sensations go, The Flying Man hit the jackpot. A short film uploaded three years ago to the video platform YouTube, Canadian-Brazilian sfx artist Marcus Alqueres’s thriller-sci-fi caught the attention of major studios after gathering over 11 million views. Sony Pictures bought the rights to the super hero flick at the end of last year, entrusting the production to Scott Glassgold. The feature version of this internet hit is scheduled to be released in 2017 — and expectations are high.
Coming from a prolific career as an SFX hotshot who has worked on iconic pictures such as 300, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, Alqueres’s own cinematic baby is unsurprisingly an array of stunts of his personal trade, but doesn’t disappoint on the tension-building side either. Opening on a realistic mock-up of news footage, the short tells the story (or rather, what is clearly only the beginning of the story) of a mysterious flying vigilante who violently suppresses criminal offenders, creating physical and intellectual havoc and fueling the debate around capital punishment. The events are seen through the eyes of Mike, a hesitating delinquent frightened by the brutal paranormal watchdog.
Lead actor Nick Smyth tells HNMag: “When we went out and made this thing, we had a tiny group of people and no money, but what we did have was a great idea that came from Marcus. So we knew we had this original idea on our side, but no one had any idea or inkling that this thing would get the attention that it did. If you were to tell us that it would eventually rack up millions of views and attention from the writer of Sons Of Anarchy and Joe Quesada from Marvel Comics, we’d have thought you were nuts, let alone having it become a Sony Pictures property. It’s a huge win not only for indie film, but for CANADIAN film.”
Shouldering itself into the already brimming superhero film market, this film could take the stereotypical plot of superpower-armed paladins and unforgivable archenemies to a new level of critical contemporary discourse on crime and morality. Transcending a Manichean polarization of good and evil, this short film certainly contains great potential in blurring the lines of justice and lawlessness, and hopefully will not end up a déja vu of pre-existing movies. Although undoubtedly containing a few refinable segments and needing an overall polish to keep up the same tension for over 100 minutes, The Flying Man is an impressive and thought-provoking kickoff and one of the high points in Canadian indie projects of the last few years. Watch the film below and be among those who can say: “I watched it before you even heard about it.”