Alan Dean Foster’s novelization helps fans connect with world of ‘Alien: Covenant’

Although I gave “Alien: Covenant” a good review earlier this summer, I did sympathize with one Amazon reviewer’s all-caps suggestion to the filmmakers: “Stop killing off main characters between movies.” This is a reference to the infamous decision to start “Alien 3” by killing off Hicks and Newt, and the franchise’s (arguably) repeated mistake this year, as “Prometheus’ ” Elizabeth Shaw is dispatched offscreen before the events of “Covenant.”

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‘Alien: Covenant’ balances xenomorph creation saga with crowd-pleasing horror

Director and saga overseer Ridley Scott continues his process of linking “Prometheus” with “Alien” in the second of what’s supposed to be a “Prometheus” quadrilogy, “Alien: Covenant” (now available for rental and streaming). While it’s at times derivative of other films in the series with its plot points and set pieces, it finds a balance between the Big Ideas of “Prometheus” (2012) and the straight-ahead horror of “Alien” (1979). This 11th film in the “Alien/Predator” franchise ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack, but that still makes it better than your average sci-fi film.

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‘Aliens/Predator’ Universe flashback: ‘Prometheus’ (2012)

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).

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‘Aliens/Predator’ Universe flashback: ‘AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator — Requiem’ (2007)

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.

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‘Aliens/Predator’ Universe flashback: ‘AVP: Alien vs. Predator’ (2004)

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.

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‘Aliens/Predator’ Universe flashback: ‘Predator 2’ (1990)

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.

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‘Aliens/Predator’ Universe flashback: ‘Alien Resurrection’ (1997)

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.”

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