love the end of this movie. It’s maybe my favorite non-Tomoko-saying-Amazon thing from Fourze.

It’s hard to say if I like this ending more than the TV series ending. TV show’s got a fantastic ending, one of Kamen Rider’s best. I love the idea of the heroes’ gratitude defeating the villain. I love how it reframes a struggle against the cosmic forces of destruction as a way of becoming better people; High School as crucible, which is how most people (especially the nerds who write/watch tokusatsu) remember it. It’s joyous, which counts for a lot.

But I will be goddamned if I don’t think of this movie’s ending – the formation of the Fusion Switch – more often than I think of the TV show’s ending. It’s so perfect. It’s Gentarou (and the planet) being saved by everything he ever did, every person he ever helped. Every tiny act of kindness, every friend Gentarou ever made, they come together to empower him. He doesn’t have to make some impassioned speech or anything. He needs help, and no one even needs an explanation: they just help him. It’s those shots of the Kamen Rider Club pressing Switches into the hands of old friends, recent rivals, teachers, students… like, the show’s main villain even pitches in to help out Gentarou. It’s a beautiful ending.

The entire movie ends up being in service to that sequence, so I can’t really find it in me to place too much weight on the film’s deficiencies.

Which, it’s got ‘em! Skydain and Groundain are paper-thin villains, robots who hate humanity for no specific reason. Inga Blink (from the hit anime/manga Gantz, apparently) is a bad-ass secret agent who a) probably could’ve just told the Kamen Rider Club what was happening instead of trying to murder them a bunch of times and then weirdly telling them that she can’t murder people; b) exists to give Ryuusei something to do, since he’s basically irrelevant to the whole Gentarou And The Power Of Friendship thing; c) like, Ryuusei doesn’t even really contribute anything to Meteor Fusion States! He just stands there!; and d) pales in comparison to Tomoko, so this potential love triangle just irritates me. Black Knight's an unstoppable weapon until he just gets randomly exploded two-thirds of the way through. Wizard’s debut is pretty stylish, but it both stops the story dead, and feels to some degree out-of-character. The amount of action is maybe too much?

Other than that, though, it’s a pretty stellar (sorry) summer movie for Fourze. It includes the entire team, for starters. Everyone contributes to the action, which isn’t a given! Miu and JK, who are usually relegated to reaction shots, actually get some pretty heavy combat sequences. (Tomoko and Yuuki get a fairly sweet one, as well.) Fittingly for a story about how Fourze’s power comes from all of Gentarou’s friends, every single member of the KRC gets to pitch in.

And, hell, so does every Switch! There’s a fight where it looks like Fourze cycles through all 40 Switches, which is nuts. I expect some form changes in a movie, but to use literally every suit and power-up? Between both of the show’s Riders? In one extended fight scene? Crazy. Completely over-the-top!

Speaking of insane heights, I love how the combat is choreographed in this movie. It’s a ton of wirework, which makes use of the entire frame. Stuff is coming in from top corners, or moving along the upper edge of the frame, which ends up making the whole movie feel extradimensional. The fights feel bigger on every axis: dudes are rocketing into the front of the shot, or gliding from one side to the other, or shooting from top to bottom. It’s a film that somehow feels like gravity doesn’t exist, even before the cast goes into space. Really exciting fight scenes for our two Riders.

Sorry, did I say two?

Early-bird debut of (Kamen Rider) Wizard! I don’t really remember, and I’ll find out for sure in a few days, but does Wizard’s voice sound super weird here? There’s a distortion to it I don’t remember from the show, and Haruto’s voice sounds higher than I recall. It didn’t sound right, but maybe I’ve just forgotten. Either way, this wasn’t one of my favorite debuts. There’s no real chemistry with Fourze or Meteor. There’s a specific kind of self-assured charm Haruto has, and it doesn’t really come across here. The writing has him as more Dismissive and Ignorant, which… like, I get why Meteor is so pissed at him!

(Also, it will always crack me up that this movie has him refer to himself as Kamen Rider Wizard – a name he vows to go by from that point forward – and then literally no one calls him that for the first 51 episodes of his TV show. His TV show, the one where neither Kamen Rider is called a Kamen Rider within the world of the show. And they belabor the naming here. AMAZING.)

The villains in this one are totally forgettable to me (they coast by on colorful suits and Showa heritage; whatever), but it’s almost irrelevant for how much this movie pays off the journey of the TV show. It’s everyone Gentarou ever helped – even the show’s main goddamn villain – lifting him back up and giving him the strength to protect them. It’s friendship as both mission and reward. It's all sorts of people working together to achieve the impossible. It’s many things combining to make something special.