12 Movies That Totally Did Not Need a Romantic Subplot
Sometimes love just isn't in the air, even if the screenwriters insist it is.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
List of people who needed that ill-conceived elf-dwarf romance: zero. Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a film that totally did not need to veer off the Tolkien map to introduce a love story between the elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). This romantic subplot not only diverted from J.R.R. Tolkien's original work, but it also felt forced and did little to contribute to the story's progression. Many fans were very loud about how the romantic subplot detracted from the larger narrative, adding unnecessary runtime to an already lengthy film.
2. Jurassic World (2015)
Hollywood sure has a knack for trying to blend romance with dinosaur rampages. Jurassic World, which received a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride marred by a tepid romantic subplot. The rekindled romance between park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard ) and dino-trainer Owen (Chris Pratt ) feels like an unnecessary distraction from the real stars of the movie, the dinosaurs. The film could've focused on the ethical implications of genetic engineering or corporate greed, but instead, we get an awkward kiss amidst a pterosaur attack.
3. Transformers (2007)
Michael Bay's Transformers did a fantastic job of bringing our childhood toys to life with dazzling special effects. What it didn't need was the lukewarm romance between Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). The forced romantic subplot detracts from the film's essence – giant robots fighting each other. The film enjoyed commercial success and a moderate 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the romantic subplot was widely criticized as unnecessary, with some critics arguing it undermined the movie's focus on the Autobots and Decepticons.
4. The 5th Wave (2016)
The 5th Wave, a film adaptation of Rick Yancey's novel, offers an intriguing premise about an alien invasion in progress. However, it's bogged down by a forced romance between Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Evan (Alex Roe), two characters trying to survive in the post-apocalyptic world. This film ended up being a total disaster and received a mere 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics arguing that the romantic subplot was one of its major drawbacks. It added unnecessary complexity to a story that was already dealing with alien invasions, survival strategies, and the essence of humanity.
5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
Yep, you read that right: Mockingjay would be so much better without unnecessary romance. This third installment of The Hunger Games series decided to dive deeper into the love triangle between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), shifting focus away from the socio-political rebellion taking place. Earning a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film faced criticism for prioritizing the romantic subplot over the more compelling elements of the dystopian narrative. The story could have progressed just as well, if not better, without putting so much emphasis on this romantic tension.
6. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Pearl Harbor, directed by Michael Bay, boasts grandiose battle sequences and authentic vintage aesthetics but also a romantic subplot that weighed down the historical narrative. The love triangle between Rafe (Ben Affleck ), Danny (Josh Hartnett), and Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) was an unnecessary distraction from the harrowing reality of the infamous attack. The film sits at a disappointing 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics and audiences alike lamenting the romance's domination over the historical backdrop. The romantic subplot not only ate up significant screen time but also reduced the scope for the development of other characters and subplots.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Despite earning a mediocre 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 delivered great visuals and some solid action sequences. However, the romantic subplot between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) unnecessarily complicated the narrative, particularly when the film already had to juggle multiple villains. While the chemistry between Garfield and Stone was undeniable, the screen time devoted to their romantic entanglements could have been used to deepen the development of Electro, Green Goblin, or the Rhino.
8. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Following the mind-bending success of the original Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded presented a fascinating exploration of free will, determinism, and the nature of reality. However, the film also delved deeper into the romantic subplot between Neo (Keanu Reeves ) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), at times overshadowing the philosophically stimulating elements. Critics largely agreed that the romance did not contribute significantly to the narrative. Instead, it detracted from the complex and cerebral themes that defined the first film.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a fun, high-seas adventure with charismatic performances, particularly from Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. The film, which scored a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, unfortunately, was bogged down by the love triangle involving Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), and Jack Sparrow. The subplot was a distraction from the thrilling pirate quests, supernatural lore, and the ever-entertaining performance of Depp.
10. Interstellar (2014)
With an impressive 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a riveting, visually stunning exploration of time, space, and humanity's survival. The romantic subplot between Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), however, felt somewhat shoehorned into the grandiose narrative. The film excels in its exploration of paternal love and sacrifice, making the romantic element seem less vital and more of an afterthought in the context of the broader plot.
11. Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day, an entertaining alien-invasion blockbuster that sits at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, juggled several subplots, including an unnecessary romantic one between Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith ) and Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox). While the romance didn't entirely detract from the film, it added little to the storyline, and the screen time could have been better spent on the alien invasion or the thrilling aerial dogfights.
12. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Finally, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones displayeda romantic subplot that many fans agree was more painful to watch than a lightsaber wound. The blossoming romance between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen ) and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman ) was riddled with clunky dialogue and awkward exchanges. Despite the film's 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the love story was widely criticized and has been seen as one of the film's main weaknesses. Instead of enriching the epic space opera, it detracted from the more interesting political drama and exciting action scenes.