Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Before Robert Patrick was Agent Doggett, before James Cameron was the King of the World, and before Arnold Schwarzenegger was a semi-respectable politician, there was Terminator 2. And, I guess, if you want to be technical about it, before that there was Terminator. But there's no television connection there, so let's just pretend it didn't happen. You know, like how Schwarzenegger pretends Last Action Hero didn't happen.
Our story begins in a pleasant children's playground. It's a lovely day and the children are laughing, but we have a sense of foreboding. Who can say why? Perhaps it's the fact that the children are shot in slow motion. Perhaps it the low rumbling of ominous music. Or maybe it's because we saw this movie ten years ago, so we know that there's about to be a flash of light and a cut to a desolate future where no one's bothered to clean up all these skeletons that litter the landscape like so many cheap attempts to shock us.
It's Los Angeles, 2029 A.D. and there are bumper-to-bumper burnt-out wrecks on the Interstate. This contrasts nicely with the opening shot of the movie, which was bumper-to-bumper normal cars on the Interstate. I would have mentioned that opening shot, but I wanted to get straight to the playground. That's probably a reflex left over from elementary school. The playground in 2029 is also burnt out, and Linda Hamilton's voice, also sounding burnt-out, tells us that some large number of people died in a nuclear fire on some date in 1997. Sure, you remember. The nuclear fire? In 1997? Right. And the survivors of this war (which, as you no doubt remember from the newspapers, was called "Judgment Day") lived to fight the machines, which respond to their cue by clunking onscreen and crushing skulls underfoot. There are laser tanks, and walking robots, and generally a lot of laser fire. Things go boom. Then things flip over and go boom. If I were designing a race of robots to battle humanity, I don't think I'd make them quite so flammable.
Linda continues her exposition: a computer (SkyNet) controls the robots, and it sent two Terminators back through time. The first one was supposed to kill her in 1984, but it failed. The second one was supposed to kill her son, John Connor, when he was just a child. Here's a shot of scarface John now, so the implication is that he survived. I guess we can all go home now. Boy, that 156 minutes just flew right by, didn't it?
Oops, wait. My mistake. More exposition. The resistance (led by Adult John) also sent back a Terminator to protect young John. "It was just a question of which one would get to him first" drones Linda, as the camera lingers on a fireball in a shameless attempt to win an Academy Award for Visual Effects (P.S. -- Mission Accomplished!).