Before reading this post, please note the following disclaimer: I haven't, as of writing, actually seen any of the three movies in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. This is based on what I've gleaned from the chatter, both on the interwebs and personal communication.
The Hobbit trilogy is not the abomination everyone makes it out to be.
Now, hear me out. Those of you who know me well realize that I'm a staunch advocate of books over their derivative film adaptations. Books allow our imagination to see things however we want to based on the limited description provided by the author. Our minds are unfettered--for the most part--by visual and audio representations of the textual work. Which means that we get to take part in the creative experience with the author. Movies we just experience what the creators give to us, because the experience is at once visual and auditory. Which means that for the creative mind, a book will always be superior to a movie. It was true for the Lord of the Rings movies. They are still the top three movies on my list--which probably needs some updating, but not a lot, since I've been home--but they aren't as good as the books. It is also very true for the Hobbit movies, I'm sure.
However, there is a key difference that is apparent between the book and the movies. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is fun-story fantasy. The Hobbit by Peter Jackson is epic fantasy. (If you're confused, see here) Everyone complains about how Peter Jackson put all these different things that aren't in the book into the movies. There's a lot to be said about that. It's quite true. A lot of that stuff isn't in the books at all. That doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't things that could have happened. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a bedtime story--not to be told in one sitting, but a bedtime story. As you read the novel, it becomes apparent that is so. As such, there are all kinds of holes and details that could be fleshed out--but this is fun-story fantasy so there's no need to. It in fact doesn't deserve to all be written in--that's part of what keeps it at the fun-story level. Peter Jackson took the liberty of fleshing out the story and turning it into an epic. Does that mean every addition is OK? Not necessarily. I'm sure I'll have my fair share of complaints when I see the movies. But I can now approach them with the right mind-set.
If you are looking to the trilogy of movies as representations of the book, you will come away sorely disappointed. Simply the fact that it's a trilogy of full-length films can tell you that. However, if you can separate them from each other a little bit and recognize that the films are a epic fantasy rendering of the fun-story fantasy novel, the changes and additions begin to make sense.