I've read some harsh criticisms about this movie, but when I watched it myself, I went "ooh" at the action and "aah" at the very heroic characters and finished it with an overall satisfied feeling.
The obvious complaint that I think everyone will agree on is that the movie dabbles a bit too much into The Ring, which I agree with. This aspect of the film was distracting at best, fortunately it was not the main portion of the film and did not detract from the rest of the story or action.
The story wasn't quite as compelling as The First's, but I felt that the strength of the characters made up for it. Kikuma (played by the girl who was Amane in the Blade movie) is a spunky and cute girl. She starts off hard edged, but you see that she's motivated by her concern for her friend, and she puts Hongo down at first, but in the end she's the only one at her school who just sees him as a person and not some kind of overpowered monster.
I also liked Chiharu (Hitomi from Hibiki) and her ability to play three different girls going through all sorts of situations. Fun stuff, good for her.
And of course the Riders, there's something Kabutoesque about the Riders in the movie. These are menly men, they're heroic and they fight and suffer for their beliefs. It's fitting that Drake's actor does the part of V3. Every time they do something special on screen, you get a believable sense that these are super powered beings.
But it's not just power that makes these characters so fun to watch. All the characters carry a certain tragic aspect that you see them struggle with, this sort of heroic personality is something that carries over from The First
Ichimonji is dying, yet he instead of relaxing in his harem he chooses to use his last bit of strength to help his friend Hongo
I kind of liked Chiharu's death scene. After becoming a monster, she asks her brother to kill her. Seeing Kikuma crying and seeing V3 put on his mask to hide his emotions was just impressive. In a way, the price of his power is the death of his little sister.
None of these characters asked for the Shocker to come in and change their lives, and yet they were still able to choose how they reacted to these tragedies. V3 chose to fight for his little sister's wish.
Rider 2 chose death over returning to the Shockers.
And Hongo continues living his life while being hunted.
I also thought the main villain in The Next was kind of cool. There's just something kind of insane about the guy that makes him credible as a madman and a threat. Also cool moves with the swords and the tongue
The costumes were all very cool. And to state the obvious the action was just insanely good. It was nice to see the relatively reserved use of CGI while focusing on real old school stunts. There's also something about the bike fighting that we really don't see in current Rider shows. It just made me giddy to see them flex their powers, puts one in the mood to run through a wall or do something unbelievable.