All I'm going to ask: 3 villians, 2 love interests, two major backstories, and the resolution to all of these. Did they manage to effectively keep all the balls in the air without it feeling too "all over the place"?
Well, I think they did. Other critics have disagreed, of course. I thought it was much better than Spider-Man 2, which suffered from over-explaining itself.
I'd kept wondering what it was I didn't like about Spiderman 2, but you may be right. X-men II seemed to hop along quite quickly because they'd done all the explaining the previous film, but Spidey 2 did drag a bit didn't it?