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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug by Howard Shore (Review)

posted Dec 18, 2013, 10:45 PM by Kaya Savas

Howard Shore is synonymous with Peter Jackson’s Tolkein adaptations, and I think we’re way past the point of anticipating whether it’ll be good or not. The anticipation of these scores has become more of where will Shore take us next. What adventure awaits us in this rich and so uniquely identifiable universe that Shore has created sonically? The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug was indeed crafted as a second chapter and not as a sequel score. The score carries everything it established in the first Hobbit film and branches out into new areas as the story unfolds. This creates a continuation of musical wealth from Howard Shore that does a stunning job of grabbing our hands right where we left off last time. 

An Unexpected Journey anchored itself with the “Misty Mountains” motif. As Bilbo’s journey takes him deeper and deeper into the belly of the whale we get a score that has a bit more foreboding. There is a more thunderous quality to this one, and that Howard Shore brass sound is in full effect. While the score is a masterful body of work, it’s the very identifiable different pieces that make the whole really stand out. Each track feels like a chapter with a different personality, but still cut from the same cloth. There are moments of tremendous beauty such as “Feast Of Starlight”. Also, the action here moves at greater precision. This is something I noticed when comparing to the original trilogy. The Lord Of The Rings always carried tremendous weight, and the music moved in big slower brushstrokes. I found that The Hobbit thus far has music that is more nimble and moves with greater precision. The final few tracks on Disc 2 are quite engaging and do an immense job of building to Smaug. All in all a fantastic middle chapter. The only drawback is that there are not really any articulate themes to give the score definition. Sure some motifs carry through, but they are incredibly subtle. As terrific as the score is, it lacks a distinct identity.

The Desolation Of Smaug is not a sequel or an evolution, it’s a continuation. We get to hear more of the story and see where Howard Shore takes us for this middle chapter in the trilogy. There is tons to dig into with the 2-Disc Special Edition with over 2 hours of music. This is a supremely crafted, executed and paced score just like everything we’ve seen from Shore for this series. Even though there isn’t big thematic material the score is still supremely strong. It will be a thrill to see how he concludes it all in the third film.