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First of all, the negative review(s) you might read here definitely do not reflect the opinion of all die-hard fans of the classic Kamen Rider series. You can see that their review 'usefulness rating' are very low anyway, meaning most people don't agree with their baseless reasons for bashing something new.
I watched the original Kamen Rider series as a kid back in the 70s, and it was really good entertainment for the time. Rewatching these classics about 30 yrs later, I feel the nostalgia, but understandably not too impressed with the old fashion FX and fight choreography. So, pulling this franchise into the 21st century is a very good idea to me. I just couldn't get into the other "Rider" series because the story isn't about Hongo. And the Riders only look derivative of the original and therefore not as good.
It really brought back fond memories when the classic title theme was played at the beginning of The First. I totally love the introduction of Kamen Rider 1. Since the character is introduced during the night, the light-up eyes effect was an excellent idea! The use of CG effects in the movie was well...very effective. Some good examples include: when Kamen Rider 1 jumped off the building landing on the ground with all the broken window glass around him. Also when Kamen Rider 1 and 2 are fighting each other, the concrete busting punches and kicks are really powerful looking. These are not just eye candy FX but used very effectively to show the invincibility of these super-human characters.
As for the villains, the intricate wire-work was very well done. I especially liked the battle with 'The Spider' where high-flying moves are done in conjunction with speeding motorcycles and among trees. The original series (if watched today) lacked some of these FX scenes to thoroughly convince me that Kamen Riders have any real special powers. Well, other than the big kick that ends the show every time. But for a youngster in the 70s, that was enough to keep me role-playing "Kamen Rider" endlessly with my friends during recess. One other cool idea in this new franchise: we can see that the "grasshopper" heads of the Riders after transforming is really just a helmet. They can take it off to reveal their real human faces. This allows the actors a much greater range of emotions while they are Riders. It also confirms for me that the Rider transformation is just changing into the suit, not changing into another being like Ultraman. For Kamen Rider, I rather like the idea that they are still human inside.
Overall if you were a fan of the original, I think The First is a must see, but still good entertainment if you just happen to like superheroes and anime. I hope that I'm not offending any fans of the other 'Rider' series when I say that they're just not the same as Kamen Rider. But "The First" successfully captures that magic from the past, and relaunch it with modern film production values. 9/10
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