My first thought on hearing a "Star Wars" continuation was due was that any sequel following a blockbuster probably wouldn't live up to expectations: The odds just are not that good. Besides, the audience, having a basis for comparison, expects much more from the sequel. I brushed these thoughts aside, however, as I sat back and watched the curtain open.

One of the first surprises was seeing the words "Episode V" flash on the screen. As explained by popular rumor, a series of nine sequels and predecessors is planned, all having roots in "Star War." The original epic is to be subtitled "Episode IV," with the saga continuing before and after the first released film.

Other, more subtle changes have occurred with time. The story line this time already has a well-rounded cast of characters to move around, so the tale becomes concerned with the plot more than with the personalities. The happenings in the movie, therefore, are dictated by circumstance, not by attitude -- a new and unusually entertaining twist.

The story faithfully continues the history of the Rebel Alliance's war against the Empire. Our heroes are on the run, in a hideout; Luke has risen to commander, still with Han Solo and Chewbacca tagging along. The princess continues to organize the effort to evade the Imperial Starfleet.

This time, however, the story ends on a less upbeat tone than before: Luke, Leia, Chewie, Han -- all seem to come up short of luck this time around. Also new is the fact that this chapter leaves several questions hanging in the air, in addition to the promise of soon-to-follow continuations left by "Star Wars." The questions of time are a little more obvious and are simply begging to be answered.

"The Empire Strikes Back" may be different enough from the original "Star Wars" to raise a few eyebrows, but that's all; this movie was made to be seen many times, with each time being better than the one before. Okay, with that attraction, "The Empire Strikes Back" might even outsell "Star Wars." I'm human, I've been wrong before, but this time I don't care -- "Star Wars" deserves to be followed by the sequel, and by itself the sequel is worth seeing many times.