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TCU rises 20 places on influential U.S. News & World Report ranking

St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., has long disdained the rankings game. The liberal arts school, which focuses on the great works of Western civilization, was known for not responding to requests from U.S. News & World Report for information that the magazine uses to sort the nation's colleges.

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'Amazing Spider-Man 2': What's the verdict?

Jamie Foxx, left, co-stars with Andrew Garfield in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
Credit: Courtesy Columbia Pictures

Breeanna Hare

CNN

(CNN) -- "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" might not be so amazing, judging from some early reviews of the anticipated May 2 sequel.

The Marc Webb-directed feature again stars Brit actor Andrew Garfield as the web-slinging Spider-Man and his girlfriend, Emma Stone, as on-screen love interest Gwen Stacy.

A sequel to 2012's franchise reboot "The Amazing Spider-Man," "Amazing 2" is supposed to pack in even more suspense and star power. Jamie Foxx plays the villain Electro, Paul Giamatti is Rhino, and Dane DeHaan is the Green Goblin.

Yet on RottenTomatoes.com, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is on the wrong side of "fresh."

"I'm sorry people, the most I can go with is 'adequate,' " says Rolling Stone's film critic, Peter Travers. "I would call this movie 'The Adequate Spider-Man 2.' "

Uh oh.

The problem, at least according to Travers, is that all the villains, who were supposed to add thrills, instead make the movie "top-heavy."

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday, too, thought the sequel added up to "an unforgivably long assemblage that never coalesces into a compelling story."

And over at the Wall Street Journal, critic Joe Morgenstern was straightforward. "How bad is this one, though? Amazingly so," he critiques. "Villainy abounds, but the villains are strident contrivances. Spider-Man flies, but does so dutifully, without joy."

Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty tried to be more measured, noting that "there's a lot riding on 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' not just commercially (although there is that) but also as a signpost of what lies ahead."

"Thankfully," the review continues, "director Marc Webb's dizzy, slickly enjoyable sequel gets a ton right. It's a Marvel spectacle that manages to deftly balance razzle-dazzle, feel-it-in-your-gut slingshot moments of flight and believable human relationships. There's psychological weight to go with all of the gravity-defying, webslinging weightlessness."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis was also kinder to Spidey, thinking the movie moved along "nicely ... until a late, badly handled turn for the grim."

The saving grace for Dargis and a few others was the starring actors. Stone, Dargis writes, "brightens" the sequel, while Garfield, "who's making a career out of playing delicate flowers, fits the role, suit and moist sniffling fine."

If Garfield checks out the Times' review, he might not be pleased with the verdict but will probably appreciate the attentiveness to his sensitive side. As the 30-year-old actor told CNN at "The Amazing Spider-Man 2's" New York premiere, personality traits he may have felt insecure about actually come in handy when he portrays Peter Parker.

"I think my gifts, weirdly, are the things that I thought I should've been ashamed of as a kid," Garfield said. "Sensitivity, vulnerability, a very 'feeling' nature, you know? Qualities that boys aren't allowed to really have growing up."

After trying to downplay those characteristics as he came of age, it eventually dawned on Garfield that those are actually qualities that would help him in his career.

"They've led me to playing Spider-Man," he said. "The wonderful thing about Peter Parker and what makes Spider-Man a great hero is his compassion, his humanity, his sensitivity, his care and love for others, his need to protect others and his ability to have empathy for others. And I think that's Peter Parker. That has nothing to do with Spider-Man. Spider-Man has the skill, but Peter Parker has the heart."

CNN's Nischelle Turner contributed to this report..

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