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.
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 couldn't get into the other "Rider" series because the story just isn't about Hongo. And the Riders only look derivative of the original and therefore not as good.
I really enjoyed "The First", and "The Next" was a good follow up. It has been many years since we had new and original stories about Hongo and Ichimonji. Hongo is still the straight forward hero character, where as Ichimonji has more of an edge to him. The tone of the movie is darker, which is good for those who were fans of the original series, as we're all adults now. One really 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. And the updated suits look great, like actual bike-racing suits, but still very faithful to the original. Other updates like using CG effects to show the riders' powers is really an improvement compared to the old days.
Overall, if you were a fan of the original, I think The First and The Next are must haves for your video library. If you are just getting into Kamen Rider series, its still a great entry-level movie to introduce yourself into the franchise.
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