Also finally saw it the other day.
It's... surprisingly okay. I like that it departs pretty early from the manga, as there is less to be irked about, and it's even easier to see it as a dumbed down alternate story - and in that context it kinda works. It's also very impressive visuals-wise - I think I liked everything, from the cyborg bodies through the crowd to the vistas. Shame that the score is so bland - I expected a bit more from a person who did the Fury Road score. Even his music for Mortal Engines was better.
I'd say that most of the shuffling around they did with various concepts and plot threads makes sense. No Makaku - understandable, his story would be too complicated to cram into a movie that already tries to adapt two volumes of a densely written manga and adds a dash of the third volume. As it was mentioned before, Ido having a clearly father/daughter-like relationship with Alita is a better choice for the PG-13 rating than their somewhat murky relationship in the manga. The addition of Chiren was also a fairly good idea and a huge improvement over the OVA version. Alita being a soldier rather than a terrorist was another understandable choice. Various little things like this version of Koyomi, Hugo riding the monocycle or Alita's number as a soldier being 99 were cute and made me believe that the creators did in fact read the entirety of Gunnm - and, who knows, maybe a bit of Last Order as well.
For me the weakest parts were Nova (a couple of words about that below) and the rather kitschy flashbacks. On the other hand, I appreciate that the flashbacks show that Alita isn't the only bug-eyed creature in existence. I also wish there was less talking - although I do admit that this is a flaw typical of American entertainment (poor Americans must be afraid of silence). Same with cheesy dialogue - I'm not saying that I liked it, but it would be hard to fault this movie specifically. The movie could also use less seriousness - Zapan, Vector and Hugo were too serious and too ~*~kewl~*~.
And even though I think that the movie was way more coherent than I expected it to be, Ido being suddenly enthusiastic and supportive of Alita's desire to play motorball is hard to describe in other terms than "a plot hole". And cutting out Hugo's brother as well as removing him from the final confrontation with Vector undermines Hugo's motivation/obsession greatly.
On the other hand, I was afraid that they wouldn't have the 'nads to kill off Hugo, so I was glad when it turned out that they, in fact, did. Chiren's role in saving his brain earlier was a decent idea, too.
Was the Scrapyard a bit too clean? Maybe, but - also as you folks have already mentioned - we see it through Alita's eyes, and she's fascinated by everything (and Salazar's acting makes Alita being an amazed teenager with one hell of a temper look damn believable). Plus I'm tired of cookie-cutter grayish brown post-apo landscapes that are so popular in various media nowadays. Life can be shitty and while also being somewhat colourful and interesting.
I also admit through gritted teeth that Alita as a CG creature was done really, really well. I still think that she should've been portrayed on screen by Rosa Salazar, though. At the very least they shouldn't have gone with those damn eyes, even if it's true that one gets mostly used to them while watching.
Oh yes, and while I don't fully understand the addition of motorball (other than "people will love this and we might not get another chance to show it"), I think it was weaved into the plot in an acceptable way. I think it looked fine (just like all the fights - hard to complain about the fights not being even faster - viewers should see what's going on), I liked all the name drops, and I liked the transition from the track to the rooftop chase. I also remember that the lack of any mention of motorball in the first two volumes felt a bit weird to me when I was reading the manga for the first time all these years ago.
All in all, I was surprised by how much I liked it compared with my earlier expectations. It wasn't the adaptation of my dreams, but I've always known that a truly great Western adaptation of Alita was an impossible task. It definitely wasn't as horrible and disjointed as GitS (and the scenes aping the various manga panels were less cringy), it didn't piss me off, and it's one of the very few passable adaptations of great books/mangas that exist. I'll surely rewatch it even if only to admire all the stuff happening in the background. Hell, I wouldn't even mind a sequel - I guess they could take some material from the 3rd to 5th volumes (let's be honest, movies like that are pretty formulaic, so berserking Zapan as a villain of the second part of a trilogy could work). Just reinstate Jashugan as the one and only champion or else...!
My mother, with whom I've seen it, was pleased as well, and the movie might make her finally read the manga, so that's always a plus.
There's also a bunch of less important observations, but I'm too tired to write a more coherent post, much less list my reactions to all of the tiny details, and the the post is a shameless wall of text already.
Thus we got that depiction of Nova: the very essence of evil. Is there anybody among us that doesn't like Nova? That sees him as plain evil? Nova has as much importance as Ido in shaping Alita's persona. Nova is just another victim of the tyranny behind Tiphares/Zalem. Or, perhaps like he himself woud define, just another living being subjected to the flow of karma that is life. Trindad woud be more suited to the role of a god like evil villain, in spite of even him isn't plain evil.
While he sure makes an impression and I agree that he's one of the most important people to shape Alita's life... I dislike him. Almost all of his appearances grate on my nerves (except maybe Porta Nova, that version was a bit more palatable). And yes, he's too chaotic evil for me to have some sympathy for him as a victim - it would be the same as trying to show Thanos as somewhat reasonable and almost human (and I'm saying this as a person who mostly likes watching MCU). I just don't buy it. In fact, the only moment when I had some sympathy for him was during the Ouroboros sequence.
Still, the movie Nova felt too flat to be seen as "the essence of evil". I'd say that he was one of the weakest parts of the movie. I also have to disagree with some mentions of him being the big bad of Zalem - c'mon, we don't know that (unless it's said in the novel, which I didn't read, and I'm not sure if I want to). I also don't think that casting Norton was a good choice. I *did* like one scene featuring Nova - when dying Vector/Nova converses with Alita. That one was really good. Makes me sad that even if they make a sequel, we won't be seeing Mahershala Ali anymore... unless movie Nova knows some of manga Nova's tricks.
Just about every time Alita went "HIYAA!" during an attack was extremely cringy.
It was super cringy, but, IIRC, we had to endure it only once.
As for GitS - I think that the manga is okay, but it's also an overrated mess, and let's not talk about the sequels. I do like the first movie and all of the SAC stuff. I even kinda accept the Arise version - it feels less GitS-like than the other versions, but it's still better than the movie. I think they should've made a straight adaptation of Arise, too - that way the Major acting like an angry teenager would feel a bit easier to accept, not to mention that maybe then there would be no shitty movie-only plot twists and no bizarre additions from the second season of SAC (I mean, Kuze and Batou were one of the better parts of the live action movie, but still - uprooting Kuze from the convoluted plot revolving around the Individual Eleven and adding him to the majority of Oshii's movie makes even less sense that adding motorball to the first two volumes of Gunnm).