I didn’t see the first film until after it was on DVD. I never thought that it was a great film, but I also thought that it was better than I thought it was going to be.
AVP: R is technically a sequel to that film, but it is also a bit of a restart. The film builds upon the “Predalien” from the end of the end of the first film, but other than that, this is a new story.
It should be noted that, even though every Predator film has been earthbound, this is the first proper film to feature Aliens on earth (the first film took place on earth, but it was in Antarctica). As such, seeing the Aliens run amok through the small town was definitely an original offering.
While it probably doesn’t top the original film series, I found this film was a huge improvement from the first film (funny what a higher gore level can do).