It's hard to write this.

Don't get me wrong. I love my gig here at JHM, and writing pieces for you fine folks to gander as you sip your coffee, snarf your lunch, or just stick it to The Man at work--well, it's mad fun.

It's just that, this very moment, I'm finding it hard to write anything at all.

You see, as I type this, right across the room from my little home office, the new "Star Wars" DVD set sits. Staring me down. Taunting me. Daring me to stop everything I'm doing and indulge in its geekly pleasures.

I've already done serious battle with it all morning. I couldn't stop myself from hitting the streets at 8 a.m. sharp to buy my copy. But after that, I had a freelance assignment urgently due. 2000 words needed by this afternoon.

And there they sat. Those damn DVDs. Compelling me to screw the freelancing, say "To hell" with my JHM column, and just vegetate on the couch. Practically begging me to leave the "real world" behind and return to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

I've managed to finish the assignment and I'm on my way toward wrapping up this week's Essential Geek. My willpower can't hold out for long, however.

So for the sake of a little variety--and to get me away from this computer in an expedient fashion so I can nerd out all afternoon--I offer this simple list. Whether you'll be renting the new DVDs, buying them sometime soon, or whether you're like me and had to stare down the set all day on September 21, just wishing you could tear into it, I hope you enjoy.

The Essential Geek's Top Ten Reasons Why "Star Wars: A New Hope" Still Kicks Ass

10. It was first. Sure, "Empire" is better, but "A New Hope" kicked off the whole saga. With a serious bang.

9. It starts in the middle. George Lucas has spoken many times of finishing his script for what was then known as "The Star Wars" and realizing he had way too much material for a single movie. Yet he still wanted to get his whole saga out there, by hook or by crook. So he chopped the script in half and decided to start with the second portion, right in the thick of what would become Episode IV. Even better, he started things literally in the middle of the action, with a Star Destroyer bearing down hard on the Tantive IV in the hopes of retrieving the stolen Death Star plans. >From the pan down right after the opening crawl, "A New Hope" grabs you, throws you against the wall and demands that you pay attention.

8. It's funny. Again, "Empire" gets all the credit for the one-liners, but the cocky cracks from Han Solo and the sarcastic interplay between he and Leia all got started right here. "I don't care what you smell" gets me every time.

7. It's got Peter Cushing. I know, I know--Darth Vader is the greatest screen villain of all time, his menace and foreboding fill the film with dread, blah blah blah. It's still more fun to watch Cushing chew on the scenery as General Tarkin. Though he manages to convey the character's evil just fine, you also can't help but feel like the guy knew all about the fundamental absurdity of the film he was involved in. It's a blast to watch.

6. It builds just right. There are few movies that manage to create excitement and tension as effectively as "A New Hope." You start with these two bumbling droids, who just happen to be carrying one of the universe's most important secrets. You add a wet-behind-the-ears farmboy, then a crazy old man. They hook up with a scoundrel and his giant dog who can fly a spaceship. The whole crew travels to save a princess on a space station, they somehow manage to escape, and THEN they get involved in saving the galaxy from the ultimate destructive power. Man, it's damn near perfect.

5. It's fast. There's no time for sitting around pondering the nature of the Force or exploring the vaguely incestuous feelings Luke has for Leia. Nope, everybody starts running, and they don't stop until the Death Star's been blowed up real good.

4. It's got Alec Guinness. "Empire" and "Jedi" do too, but in much smaller doses. Only in "A New Hope" do we get to watch this master actor take some slightly hokey lines in a cryptic script and transform them into a brilliant performance. Watch closely as Obi-Wan tells Luke about the fate of his father--you can see him lying, but Luke can't, and I'm betting Guinness didn't even know why he was lying, or if he was lying in the first place. It's work full of mystery and nuance that doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves.

3. It could blow your mind. If you're old enough to have seen it when it was first released, you know what I'm talking about. If not, try to imagine watching these proceedings without the background of the amazing special effects and blockbuster filmmaking we've come to take for granted. In 1977, when sci-fi was the realm of a fierce subculture and little more, it came out of nowhere and changed all the rules. Nothing had ever made the impact that "Star Wars" did, and nothing had ever looked and felt like it. Not even close.

2. It's the funnest "Star Wars" movie ever. And I'm saying that with the full realization that we still have one more to go. Honestly, is there any way Episode III can match the out-of-this-world romp that is "A New Hope"? It's just a great time at the movies. Plain and simple. "Empire" has more depth; it's the serious middle child. "Jedi" does whatever it wants; it's the spoiled younger child. "A New Hope" is the bronzed, confident, fearless oldest child, always sure of what it's doing and always happy to take you along for the ride.

1. Because it kicks ass, damnit! Now go watch it.

Matt Springer has been writing professionally about genre entertainment for the past five years and has worked full-time for such publications as the Official Buffy the Vampire Slayer Magazine, Cinescape, and Total Movie. He co-edits the genre criticism website Entertainment Geekly ( His first novel, Unconventional, is the tale of three geeks who spend a life-altering weekend at a convention; buy it online at South Side Press ( He's currently working to become a sitcom writer.