Between 2001 and 2003, Peter Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic, to the big screen. And unlike earlier adaptations, they did not condense them into one movie or make them a goofy cartoon. Instead, they were live-action, incredible films that for the most part did justice to Tolkien’s vision.

Speculation immediately began over whether he would adapt The Hobbit—Tolkien’s earlier tale set in the Lord of the Rings universe—next. And now, in late 2012, we all eagerly await the release of the first Hobbit film in December.

Tolkien fans and non-fans alike have reason to be excited. The Hobbit is a great story, and Peter Jackson is probably one of the few people who could do it justice in a live action film.

But Tolkien fans also have some reason to be worried. While changes must inevitably be made when a book is adapted for film, Jackson—and his script-writing team of Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh—altered Tolkien’s tales beyond what was absolutely necessary. Some of this was for the better, like the depiction of the Ents invading Isengard (which was told in flashback in the books). But several other changes were not, and seem to be the scriptwriter’s attempt to put their own mark on Tolkien’s stories. Early hints about The Hobbit movies from Jackson et al indicate they are taking a similar approach to these films.

So be excited, please, about The Hobbit: I am. And go to see the films. But I think there are few reasons to be worried, which I—as a responsible citizen of the world—am compelled to lay out for you.

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This article was first posted on November 20, 2012