"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is finally opening and will re-introduce fans to Middle Earth. 

While it's well-known that Peter Jackson's new trilogy is based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, viewers may still have some questions. 

That's where HitFix and Crackle's Cheat Sheet comes in handy.  

It explains just exactly how the three "Hobbit" films are tied into Jackson's blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" trilogy adaptation. Besides Bilbo (played by Martin Freeman this time around), that sneaky Gollum (Andy Serkis) and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), some other familiar "LOTR" faces are returning as well, including Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and others. 

The cheat sheet also takes a look at the films' new heroes, villains and creatures, and addresses when you can expect to see Orlando Bloom as Legolas, "Lost" vet Evangeline Lilly and the dragon known as Smaug. We also examine the film's much-ballyhooed higher frame rate format.

Just how did Jackson and his co-writers turn 310 pages into three films? And what's the deal with Jackson's run-in with animal rights activists PETA?

All your questions and more will be answered in the latest edition of our ongoing Cheat Sheet series (other recent entires include "The Dark Knight Rises").

Watch the video from Crackle here: 

 

Check out photos from the film's premiere here. Watch six clips from the film here.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens December 14.