Just when you thought that the lessons of the notoriously overcrowded SPIDER-MAN 3 had been learned, we find ourselves taking a small step backwards in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.

The bad news: we’re back to too many adversaries cluttering up an already dense storyline. Electro (Jamie Foxx) is the villain on the posters (even getting a “:RISE OF ELECTRO” on the title in Australia), and he’s certainly where most of the budget went. But while he looks fantastic, he’s again fighting for baddie screen time against lesser super-crim Rhino and the emergence of Spidey’s traditional arch nemesis Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). So we’re once again back to too much going on at once, and not even an attempt at any kind of subtlety to say it. Foxx gets the shortest end of the stick in terms of character development, but there’s more than enough shit being thrown at the exposition fan to cover everyone; the dialogue is chock full of howlers.

It’s also uneven – through no fault of his own, poor Marton Czokas has been directed into a completely different film, and this general wavering of the movie's tone as a whole seems to have stumped the normally unflappable Hans Zimmer, whose score is barely noticeable let alone memorable. The bands on the soundtrack meanwhile, continue to be whatever bland vanilla processed bubblegum nü-rock shite Sony Music feels like foisting onto their partner company’s movie’s end credits to fulfil a contract/see-what-might-stick-but-who-knows-what-kids-like-today-anyway.

The good news: at least some lessons have been learned, and the filmmakers are at least attempting a tiered structure to villain screentime. Electro’s arc is for all its temporal limitations, a very traditional one, while DeHaan  spends most of his time as sickly billionaire Harry Osborne who is only beginning his descent into Goblindom crazytown. Rhino’s presence is as minor as his purpose is simple: to point the series towards to some Sinister Six action forthwith; this instalment may be overcrowded and clumsy, but it’s clearing a lot of space for episodes to come.

The practical stunts and New York locations look great, and the CG effects vary greatly, but are mostly solid (the ramped-down shots are particularly beautiful as you’d expect).

Also, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 continues to get some very important elements right. Most important of all is Peter Parker/Spidey himself. Andrew Garfield now inhabits so confidently and has such an understanding of his character’s appeal – and crucially, the difference in appeal from other comic book superheroes – it’s no exaggeration to suggest he’s the best piece of Marvel casting since Robert Downey Jr. Look at the way Peter constantly moves, and the second-nature of his vertical movement.

Likewise, Emma Stone continues to fit the Gwen Stacy character like a glove, far from any kind of damsel in distress and propelling her story arc with her own proactivity and usefulness.

It’s completely fair to say that the onscreen relationship between these two saves THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2; every time they appear together, the movie soars – all the elements fall into place, and it feels the way a Spider-Man movie ought to. But they’re only on screen together for about half of the movie, and all of the above problems are coming at you thick and fast for the other half. At least the final sequence sends it out on a firmly-footed high – just enough to have us hopeful for parts 3, maybe even 4….