A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie was a hit summer blockbuster from 1998 about an asteroid that threatens to wipe out the Earth; only a team of scruffy, outcast drillers can save the day. It's a very typical, traditional disaster movie, with massive amounts of destruction and the onscreen deaths of both major and minor characters. It contains middling amounts of language and some sexual situations, but the main concern is the intensity of the violence. The entire scenario -- the possible extinction of absolutely everything and everyone on Earth -- may be a bit too much for younger viewers.
What's the story?
A giant asteroid ("the size of Texas") threatens to wipe out everything and everyone on Earth. NASA chief Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) cooks up a crazy, last-ditch plan involving a crack team of drillers, led by Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis). They will board a rocket, land on the asteroid, drill an 800-foot hole, and plant a nuclear bomb, splitting the asteroid in two before it can reach the Earth. Many complications arise, including overshooting the landing site, and a case of space dementia. But Harry becomes most perturbed when he realizes that his best right-hand man, A.J. (Ben Affleck) is secretly in love with his beloved daughter Grace (Liv Tyler).
Is it any good?
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay (The Rock, Pearl Harbor), ARMAGEDDON is a super-packaged product, designed and marketed rather than created. It's noisy, glossy, and excessive, and more than a tad simplistic -- but it's also nearly irresistible. It has a huge cast of stars and character actors, all playing instantly likeable misfits and outsiders that grab our affections and never let go.
The cliffhanger setups and payoffs come right out of the silent era, complete with ticking clocks counting down to the last second, but these creaky old devices still work like gangbusters. The movie's major drawback is that it cheerfully plays with the terrifying concept of the complete extinction of everything and everyone on Earth. Younger and sensitive viewers who think a little too much about this setup may find themselves lying awake for nights afterward.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's violence and destruction. Was it frightening, or thrilling? Why do you think it made you feel that way?
How would you feel if you found out the Earth was ending in just a matter of days? What would you do with the time? Would you risk everything for a chance to save the Earth?
The main characters, the drillers, were all misfits and outcasts, gamblers, drug users, womanizers, quick-tempered, foul-mouthed, etc. How did you like them as you met them onscreen? How much did you trust them with the fate of the Earth?
- In theaters: July 1, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: January 14, 2003
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 151 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and brief language
For kids who love adventures
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.