On paper, this one had money-making gimmick written all over it. For one thing, it’s the second sequel to a 15-year-old movie, whose first sequel (in 2002) was pretty terrible. For another, Will Smith’s next three movies are Hancock II, Bad Boys III and I, Robot II, so the prospect of yet another numerical movie hardly gladdens the heart.

As it turns out, Men in Black III is perfectly fine summer fare featuring a lead actor (Mr Smith) at the top of his game, some cracking creature effects (take a bow, Rick Baker) and an eye-catching turn from Josh Brolin.

The quirky story begins in the present day as nasty alien Boris the Animal (played with undisguised relish by Jermain Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame) escapes from his lunar prison with the intent of travelling back in time and killing the chap who put him in prison, one Tommy Lee Jones. Time for Will Smith to do a bit of time-travelling of his own in order to save his buddy.

Etan Coen’s screenplay offers plenty of opportunity for Will Smith to do his thang, and aptly demonstrates why, despite all the sequels, he remains one of the most charismatic of screen actors. Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t get much to do this time out (we’re talking less than 10 minutes screen time), but Josh Brolin, in the role of Jones’ younger self, delivers a spot-on impersonation of the Oscar-winning Texan, right down to the squint in his eye and the snarl in his voice.

Meanwhile, director Sonnenfeld adopts a suitably playful approach to proceedings while making the most of the 60s milieu (the key sequence of the movie revolves around the launch of Apollo XI). Elsewhere, the likes of Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg and Nicole Scherzinger make their marks in smaller roles. Men in Black III doesn’t raise the bar of 3D film-making or leave you gasping for another sequel in fifteen years time, but it’s the summer so grab your popcorn and you won’t be disappointed.

Michael Doherty