The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 return to the big screen in one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer. The sequel brings back the original cast and director James Gunn to tackle the ever-difficult task of creating a sequel that exceeds expectations. The hip Guardians’ follow-up reintroduces a colorful universe with a funky soundtrack, psychedelic effects, and of course humor. The offbeat novelty is not as fresh the second time around but it’s still an exciting spectacle worth revisiting.

The sequel’s central plot explores the relationship between the head honcho of the Guardians, Peter Quill, and his absent father. Who is he? What is he? Where has he been? All those questions are answered as Peter dives into his heritage. The movie also splits up the rag tag team of guardians as they set off on different adventures; Gamora reunites with her rouge sister Nebula. Drax attempts to find common ground with Mantis- an awkward alien with empathic powers. Rocket, Baby Groot, and an exiled Yondu try to escape a mutiny of Ravagers. It sounds like a lot of subplots but it’s not as complicated as it appears. It zips along until all the stories come together in a concoction of vivid colors and far-out music.

There are so many great things to say about the movie yet some audience members may walk out feeling a little underwhelmed. The movie is a visual smorgasbord of colorful sets and effects. It’s a great combination of retro and futuristic designs that deserve some awards recognition. The cast is just as loveable as they were in the first installment. The soundtrack is lively and the action is superbly executed. However, the movie suffers from a slightly worn down novelty. What was so fresh and new three years ago feels a little more manufactured. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t work but the element of surprise is gone. But the sequel does offer a much more power punch of emotion that perhaps was lacking in the original. You may even shed a tear or two by the time the credits roll.

The cast works just as well as they did the first time, even if they spend a majority of the movie separated. Chris Pratt works his everyman charm and it works especially well with the forever cool Kurt Russell who plays his father. Zoe Saldana proves to be one of the best action stars working in the business. Bradley Cooper’s voice work as Rocket makes you forget that it’s Bradley Cooper and the raccoon is just a CG creation. But the real MVPs are Dave Bautista’s very literal Drax and his interaction with newcomer Mantis played by Pom Klementieff. They have the lightest storyline but the best lines. And of course Baby Groot is a scene stealer. He is adorable, resourceful, but very dumb.

The sequel proves that Guardians is perhaps the best sub franchise in the Marvel universe. It doesn’t need to rely on any of the other Marvel characters to stand on its own legs. Make no mistake- this is a bona fide Guardians sequel. James Gunn embraces his kooky world and you surly won’t forget it even if it is not as organic as the original. Stay tuned for the four (yes four) end credit scenes. Also keep an eye out for some brief cameos- even in the groovy credits backdrop. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a great- if not goofy- kick off to the 2017 summer season.