Book Review: Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History
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Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History
By James Mottram & David S. Cohen
Foreword by John McTiernan
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release date: October 30, 2018

In this writer’s opinion, Die Hard is the greatest action film ever made. Based on Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever, John McTiernan’s 1988 classic combined all the elements that make for the perfect action movie: a great protagonist, an equally detestable villain, tremendous action set pieces, and insanely quotable dialogue. It made the careers of its stars, Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, and it proved that an ’80s blockbuster didn’t need a muscle-bound hero to sell tickets. Willis played John McClane like the everyman who wanted to be a Will Rogers-esque cowboy, and Rickman’s delightfully evil Hans Gruber became the prototype for action bad guys. 30 years and 4 sequels later, James Mottram and David S. Cohen along with Insight Editions bring you Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History. This epic 230+ page book is the perfect holiday gift for the Die Hard enthusiast in your life.

Full of gorgeous color photos from all five films in the Die Hard franchise and full of artifacts like storyboard art, script notes, wallet photos, and set maps, this book is everything a fan of the series could want. This hardcover edition features a foreword by director John McTiernan, who tells that he initially wanted to pass on the project because the script simply wasn’t “fun.” He said he turned the hero cop vs. terrorist plot into a Shakespearean comedy and the rest was history! For the first 116 pages, the book focuses on the original film detailing action scenes like blowing up the swat car, the helicopter crash, and my favorite, the amazing hose-jump by McClane off the roof of an exploding Nakatomi Plaza. Pages 82-86 showcase this amazing stunt, including replica storyboards by artist John J. Jensen.

Fun facts: Die Hard 3 was supposed to take place on a boat and be the Poseidon Adventure of the trilogy, but Under Siege was in production first. Also sadly, the writers envisioned Brandon Lee for the role of Zeus before his death, which led to the character’s ethnicity change and the eventual casting of Samuel L. Jackson.

The research and passion put into this book by its authors is obvious and impressive. This is the kind of work that can serve as a coffee table conversation piece or an intimate part of your home library. And rest assured any time a Die Hard in on TV, you will open this up to follow along.

While its status as a Christmas film can be debated, there is no debating the quality and collectibility of Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History. When your loved one opens it up, they’ll scream “Yippee KVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVay Motherf*cker!”

Yippee-ki-yay . . . Discover the explosive story behind the creation of the Die Hard saga in this visually stunning, behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of detective John McClane.

Thirty years after the release of the groundbreaking action film, Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History takes an in-depth look at the entire Die Hard saga, from the original movie through to the hit sequels, comics, video games, and other extensions of hero John McClane’s story.

Loosely based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard, released in 1988, saw Moonlighting star Bruce Willis seamlessly make the transition from TV success to movie stardom in a film so taut, explosive, and full of suspense that it would come to define the action movie genre for decades to come. Directed by John McTiernan (Predator), Die Hard also starred revered British stage actor Alan Rickman who turned lead villain Hans Gruber into a presence so deliciously malevolent, audiences didn’t know whether to love him or hate him.

For the first time, Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History tells the complete story of the making of Die Hard and its sequels, through exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of each film and a wealth of rare and unseen imagery, including set photography and concept art. Also exploring Die Hard comics, video games, and other merchandise, this book will tell the full story of the saga and its remarkable thirty-year legacy.

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