"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug"
Standard Edition Soundtrack Review
Disc One: 13 Tracks/Disc Time: 55:08
Disc Two: 15 Tracks/Disc Time: 60:47
Total Time: 1:55:56 Grade: A
Deluxe Edition Also Available on Watertower Music
Disc One: 14 Tracks/Disc Time: 60:03
Disc Two: 15 Tracks/Disc Time: 69:25
Total Time: 129:28 Grade: A+
(BEST OF 2013)
A year ago around this exact same time, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was released after a long hiatus of the billion dollar franchise "Lord Of The Rings" to which Co-Writer/Director Peter Jackson had been long in working on after striking out with mildly entertaining, yet overraught remake of "King Kong" and the critically panned adaptation "The Lovely Bones." While the franchise had originally been conceived for Director Guillermo Del Toro to assume the directing chores of this prequel trilogy based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien taking place long before "Lord Of The Rings." but left the project not without contributing to the screenplay along with Peter Jackson, Phillippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. After successfully crossing over (and under) the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest-without their Wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan, "Lord Of The Rings"). If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, "Sherlock") to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug (featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch "Sherlock", "Star Trek Into Darkness"). The film has been a resounding success much like its' predecessor with solid reviews and a fine cast.
Returning to continue this prequel trilogy to "Lord Of The Rings" is the magnificent work of Oscar winner Howard Shore, who created a masterpiece of scores for Peter Jackson's grand vision to the tune of two Oscars for "Fellowship Of The Ring" and "Return Of The King", which were grand bold works which have now set the precident for grand operatic film scores. Personally, "Two Towers" is the best of the three and should've won as well had it been nominated. In last year's "An Unexpected Journey", Shore created a fascinating new musical world that leads to his grand opus and continues his mastery in "The Disolation of Smaug", which is easily the best score of the two so far which features the style of "Lord Of The Rings" without overemphasizing it too much and making it a completely original work of its' own.
The score continues where "An Unexpected Journey" left off and pretty much what Shore had done with the previous "Lord Of The Rings" films and much in line with "Fellowship of The Ring" and "The Two Towers" with the latter completely really becoming a full blooded and powerful work that is the best of the three scores without question. "Desolation Of Smaug" I'm very delighted to say that this score does follow this layout perfectly it is a score that gradually builds up and builds up the drama and thrills that made Shore's other scores Oscar winning works. Beginning with "The Quest For Erebor", Shore reintroduces his "Hobbit" theme and builds on it with swelling string work that gradually builds and builds up to a powerful delicate crescendo. The score follows suit with the building of grand themes that make this score standout. Take "Wilderland", "Barrels Out Of Bond", "The Forest River" and "The Woodland Realm" that follow this track which feature some great regal and majestic sounding orchestrations by Shore and the very underrated Conrad Pope and the keys to the success of this score
The rest of the lengthy album features more standout material that includes "The Nature Of Evil", a powerhouse of brooding darkness that sounds like a precursor to the material from "Lord Of The Rings", "Protector Of The Common Folk", is a rather upbeat track that shifts from powerful to, playful and dramatic, "In The Shadow Of The Mountain", is very dramatic and adds an air of mystery to the proceedings that piggybacks the following track "A Spell Of Concealment" which turns very aggressive and full of action and leading to my personal favorite tracks of this score and the album "Courage Of Hobbits", "Kingsfoil", "A Liar And A Thief", "My Armor Is Iron" and "The Hunters", a brilliant action driven track that is the centerpiece of the score clocking in at a lengthy nine minutes on this album and just close to ten on the deluxe edition.
There is also a Deluxe Edition available of this soundtrack which features an additional 13 minutes not included on this version and the good news that expanded material is definitely worth getting as well because it adds even more depth and excitement much like this album does as well. As far, as this album is concerned, it is a terrific listen all around and it was put together in such as way that is very much like the complete recordings of the original "Lord Of The Rings" musical scores. The main difference is that there isn't a wealth or plethora of material missing that would seriously constitute that much music. Thankfully!
"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" is one of the years' best scores and without question one of Howard Shore's best scores in quite a long time and not that his work has suffered since the original "Lord of the Rings" films. With this score, he's more relaxed and assure of himself since he doesn't have to do all the brunt work this time around much like he'd done previously. The score is exactly how blockbuster epics should sound like and not depending or relying too much on electronic instruments. A powerful score that no doubt should be on everyone's list for the years' best scores. Thumbs way way up! Grand score.