I guess my thought about the Tolkien books is that there’s no way to make them into truly good movies that are reasonably digestible given the current economics of the industry. You might be able to make a terrific, very long HBO series out of them, but in order to make movies — with their allotted timespans of 2-3 hours and narrative arc requirements — you have to make some real choices, none of which end well.
Jackson, in a way, did these exactly backwards: he shortchanged The Lord of the Rings and is making The Hobbit too long. Thus we are denied “The Scouring of the Shire” and granted Radagast with bird poop in his hair being pulled around by bunnies (not that I really mind getting the latter but if I had my druthers I would have gotten the former).
But that’s because of the economics of the industry. Unlike anyone before him, Jackson was able to get the studio to commit to three movies for The Lord of the Rings. Having proven it was a money-maker, he now gets three more for the far-shorter The Hobbit.
You can either evaluate these as movies (as opposed to adaptations) and judge them alongside other movies that are either more suited to or specifically created for the medium, or decide to accept the business reality and enjoy what you get. I’ve chosen the latter — mostly because these books are my thing — and, therefore, I really enjoyed The Hobbit.
I think both are valid choices, though. My hope is that I live long enough to see the next person get to do The Hobbit as one 3-hour movie, The Lord of the Rings as six two-hour movies and the rest of Tolkien’s material as an assortment of half-hour additional material.