It's really a shame that the novelization has died out. "Prometheus," which recently hit home video, is begging for a talented sci-fi author to delve deeper into its themes via the written word. In fact, "Prometheus" is by far the most idea-oriented chapter among the 10 films in the "Aliens/Predator" saga. The two other entries that come closest are "Alien Resurrection" (1997) with its exploration of the creation of life (in that case, via cloning and the purposeful use of humans as incubators for xenomorphs), and "Alien vs. Predator" (2004), with its idea that an alien race (in that case, the Predators) has seeded Earth (in that case, with Aliens).
One of the fun things about the "Aliens/Predator" franchise is that it tries not to repeat itself. Every entry is a mix of horror, science fiction and action, but never in the same percentage. "Alien" was horror, "Aliens" was military action in space, "Alien 3" was a mood piece, "Alien Resurrection" was a rollercoaster ride, "Predator" was an '80s actioner in the jungle, "Predator 2" was a cop flick, and "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" was a historical mystery mixed with a video game.
The Aughts was a decade when Hollywood stopped making excuses and started delivering movies people had been clamoring for: From "X-Men" to "Spiderman" to the salivated-over crossover between the "Aliens" and "Predator" franchises, which had merged in comic books 14 years earlier. Although there's no way 2004's "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" could live up to the expectations, it mostly delivers the goods.
At first glance, "Predator 2" (1990) is the most dated of the 10 films in the "Aliens/Predator" saga. Although set in 1997 -- so that it could take place a decade after "Predator," thus establishing the concept that a Predator hunts on Earth at 10-year intervals -- the fashions and hairstyles, plus one strobe-lit horror sequence on the subway, place it firmly in the year in was made.
Following a horror movie, an action movie and a brooding character piece, the "Alien Quadrilogy" (as it'll be known until a fifth film comes out) wraps up with a fun sci-fi rollercoaster ride. 1997's "Alien Resurrection" (a 6.2 IMBD rating) is just as maligned as "Alien 3" (a 6.4 rating), but while I understand why people dislike the slow-paced third film, I don't understand why I have to defend the fourth film. It's no "Alien" or "Aliens," but it's much easier to like than "Alien 3."
After the almost universally beloved "Alien" and "Aliens," we now move into the territory of "for fans only" with 1992's "Alien 3," which can be viewed as a theatrical cut riddled with plot holes that resulted from a studio-mandated tight edit, or as an expansive Special Edition that's based on director David Fincher's "assembly cut" of the film.
In 1986, I was obsessed with "Star Wars" cartoons and toys and not even aware of the "Aliens" franchise, which is appropriate, because I would've been too young for it. But I can imagine what people thought going into the theater: "OK, here's Ripley from the first movie, taking us back into the world of 'Alien,' a place we aren't entirely sure we want to return to. And it's from the director of a weird little sci-fi/romance story from a couple years ago called 'The Terminator.' Well, it's worth a shot at least."