Here at The A.V. Club, we’re big fans of long takes in movies and TV. Beyond their thematic or narrative importance, there’s nothing like the sense of awe one gets while watching all of the moving parts of a long scene come together like clockwork.
It’s rare though, to see an entire film done in a single take. But that’s exactly what One-Take Movies, a new web series from Lorne Michaels’ Above Average, purports to do, breaking down the essence of different genres of summer blockbuster movies into short, single-take videos. At three or four minutes in length, “The Hero Movie,” “The Disaster Movie,” and “The Heist Movie” aren’t exactly Russian Ark, but they do manage to pull off some neat visual effects.
Using camera trickery, some clever set design, and a bunch of stagehands in faceless black suits that make them look like the ninja cousins of Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Green Man, each video traces out the clichéd arc of its chosen genre from beginning to melodramatic end. There’s the superhero origin (courtesy of the Radioactive-Gamma-Serum-Dead-Parent Machine), the moment when someone (adorable) has to be left behind to blow up the asteroid, and, of course, the montage of putting a team of hackers, traitors, and undercover cops together for the big heist.
Amid all the chaos of giant robots, sudden balloon pregnancies, and masters of disguise, the videos also manage to get in some cutting satire of the genres in question, especially in their use of female characters as plot devices and props. The whole thing has a pleasantly ramshackle, DIY vibe to it that belies how much planning must have gone into setting these up.