How interesting you should say that about the film versions of LOTR. I thought for the most part that he undertook a mammoth, gargantuan task with respect and genuine success. There were a couple of things that I was quite considerably peeved about, especially as I was so utterly devoted to the books, but mostly I think he did a magnificent job, and one that would have made Tolkein very proud.
It was shown with the first Harry Potter film, that if you try to make nothing but a carbon copy of the book, and remain faithful to the letter, it doesn't work - and instead you are left with a clinical, boring and soulless product. Which the first HP film was. People need to understand that these are entirely different genres, and what works perfectly in a book just might not translate well to screen. And that you can make the necessary adjustments without killing the books, their characters, their themes or their spirit.
That is where I think The Golden Compass might be falling down in the film version. By trying to stay so literal and true to the book, its possible that it's just not worked as a film. I would love to have seen these books in Jackson's hands - he has shown that he is a master at getting the balance right.
As a whole I liked the LOTR movies but I wasn't happy with the way some of the characters were portrayed, especially Gimli. Quite a few of the important parts of the story were left out and replaced with things that weren't in the actual books. I understand that the movies are based on the books and not an exact representation, that directors need to have some creative license to help keep their intended audience in the seats but I just feel they could have been better. I don't know, maybe I'm too much of a purist when it comes to the story.