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Why do we need an R-rated Hobbit movie?
A scene from "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." - photo by Jim Bennett
Reading bedtime stories to my children got a lot more fun as they got older, because they eventually outgrew "Goodnight Moon" and Dr. Seuss and were able to graduate to books with more words than pictures. I would read them a chapter a night, and their favorites were The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and J.R.R. Tolkiens The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is a book very much written to be read aloud. It includes all kinds of clever asides to the reader, and its filled with the kind of whimsy that lends itself to an oral presentation. Tonally, its very different from its Lord of the Rings sequel, which takes itself far more seriously and is better suited for an action-packed cinematic adaptation.

Perhaps thats why I adore Peter Jacksons three Lord of the Rings movies, as they are largely faithful to Tolkien while, at the same time, adapting the story to fit a new medium.

The same, sadly, cannot be said of his Hobbit movies, which, to put it kindly, I do not adore.

Jacksons decision to film The Hobbit in the same style as his previous Lord of the Rings adaptations purged all of the charm out of the original story and padded a book that contained barely one movies worth of material out into a trilogy of three-hour-long borefests.

No, scratch that. I thought the first one wasnt awful, as it didnt stray as far afield from the book as the second two did. But once we had to endure the bad CGI of superhero Legolas leaping on floating barrels to shoot arrows into the faces of oncoming orcs, I pretty much checked out.

Yes, I watched all three movies, but it was a chore born of duty, not love. I even slogged my way through the final film, titled The Battle of the Five Armies, which expands six pages of the original story into more than two hours of blood and guts so you can watch armies youve never met slaughter other armies you dont care about.

But wait, theres more!

Now The Battle of the Five Armies is even bloodier and guttier! Warner Brothers has just announced the Blu-Ray and HD digital release of its extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies, which, unlike the PG-13 theatrical version, will now bear an R rating.

Yeah, thats just what we need an R-rated Hobbit.

The extended edition's running time is 166 minutes, compared to 144 minutes for the theatrical version. Apparently, there were 20 more minutes of decapitations, eviscerations and mutilations that we all missed. Just for good measure, they may even throw some defenestrations in there, too. I also think they found more floating barrels for Legolas to jump on.

Look, dont get me wrong. I understand the appetite for action movies, and there are a lot of exciting war flicks out there that dont skimp on the gore. But The Hobbit isnt Braveheart, and whatever The Battle of the Five Armies is, it isnt The Hobbit. It shares the title and the names of characters, but it has only a passing resemblance to the gentle tale I read to my children over the years. Can we stop pretending, then, that these two stories are different versions of the same thing?

Its easy. In the movie, just rename Bilbo and call him Fred, and say hes a Furfoot, not a Hobbit. And do the same with everyone and everything else, and name the movie The Battle of Five Other Armies That Have Nothing to Do with J.R.R. Tolkiens Armies. That way, everyones happy.

Of course, if your parents try to read the new story to you at bedtime, then youre probably out of luck.