In general, yes. It did great business in its opening weekend, but interest in it petered out quickly. Most viewers were upset that Newt and Hicks were killed off. Though the atmosphere was appropriately bleak and hopeless, the movie just wasn't all that compelling.
Despite its immense flaws as a film and entry in the series, I do think it was a fitting conclusion to the story. I always viewed Alien 3 as a Lord of the Rings type story in a way. The main conflict in Lord of the Rings was the threat of Sauron's return. The main conflict of Alien 3 was the threat of the Alien species returning after being destroyed on LV-426. I also don't necessarily think Alien 3 cheapens Aliens. Instead, Alien 3 provides closure to Aliens, putting the final nail in the coffin of a species that might very well have brought about the destruction of all life.
The story of Ellen Ripley is a tragic one, but also beautiful in its hint of humanity's goodness embodied in her character. The moment in Alien 3 where Bishop (assuming the role of Devil) tempts her one last time, promising a life his company robbed her of, and she dryly and simply replies "No" is one of my favorite moments of all of the films. She finally has the fate of herself and the universe in her own hands and won't be manipulated any longer. Even more tragic, the universe will never know of her sacrifice.
When Ripley falls back into the fire, I look at it as her rejoining Hicks and Newt, since they were also cremated there. Maybe not in life they could be a family, but in death...
Overall, Alien 3 is a film I love, though it's also a film I can't defend because the criticisms are valid. I thought it was a great way to give resolution to Ripley's character, as she literally became the savior of all mankind. There was also something poetic about the fate of the universe being in the hands of criminals. What Alien 3 needed was more time to fine tune the script, though as I understand it, there wasn't much one to begin with. I ultimately believe they were on the right track with the movie, but unfortunately the plot holes it introduces in order to buy into the story make it hard for some people to see the powerful and emotional story being told.
The flaw of the subsequent Alien films is that they revolved around Ripley when it should have been more than her. It limited the series considerably and Alien3 is a perfect example of that.
I remember some people insisting it was an AIDS metaphor