A wonderful fanedit.
A week before watching Episode VIII, I wanted to watch Episode VII to refresh things. However, I usually prefer looking for a good fanedit instead of watching the original because "No film is without sin", and fanedits often take care of at least some of the sins.
Anyway, the fanedit is highly recommended. The narrative adjustments flow well, and many things make a lot more sense now (e.g., the first time we see Kylo Ren without his helmet).
I really really like this edit. I think it is narratively superior to the theatrical cut. The suspense of who Kylo Ren is held until the proper moment instead of revealing it before any of the other main characters have even met Kylo. This creates for more suspense in the climactic moments of the film because the viewer is still guessing.
The only issue I have are kinda nitpicky, DigModiFication removed some of the humor bits I did rather like(han shooting the bowcaster) and the redone audio for masked Kylo Ren, while sounding great in general, sounds out of place when it directly follows one of Kylo's lines that was filmed masked.
Other than that, I think this is a really strong edit with some great and well executed ideas.
I'm finding it harder to care about this film the more I watch it - especially when it gets to the death star briefing ...which is why I only watch it in the advent of new fan edits. I quite liked this one. I thought the dialogue was very nicely trimmed and many scenes were appropriately truncated to their essence - helping Rey and Fin's characters out immeasurably. Han and Leia's scenes together are much more watchable for their brevity and certain action scenes are much less Abrams.
Kylo Ren is a much better character now also, as he is unmasked much later - giving his showdown with Han much more gravitas and avoiding the fact his person is just not intimidating face to face. The voice fx for him work well. It would be nice, however, to have had more dynamic shots available where he is wearing the mask to use in place of his unmasked scenes without so much seeming repetition, but what can a fan editor do with limited footage? A nifty cgi mask and some rotoscoping might work, but that's all a bit of a fantasy at this level.
The addition of traditional saga fx and sounds were very welcome, although I don't like the "calling" of the lightsabre any way. It's all very Harry Potter and juvenile in it's writing but it is well dealt with in this edit thanks to the sound additions. Artoo's presence felt a little awkward, but it would probably feel fine had I not seen the prior version. I just wish they'd made him purposefully deactivated, rather than "sad". Just silly. I still have problems with the Rey and Leia hug and I wouldn't have minded Han's use of Chewie's bowcaster staying in either. But generally a very tight and flowing narrative.
This is the first fanedit of Force Awakens I've seen and I got to tell you it's a very good one in almost every way.
To me the original Force Awakens was a really good movie but it had its flaws. After Rogue One was released these flaws stood out more as the movie had a "competitor" now, superior almost in every way (IMHO). DigModiFicaTion went far to fix most of the flaws.
Much of the silly humor is gone now. Unfortunately though some bits I actually liked were gone too like "You're cold". Many might disagree with me but I thought it was very funny, although not very Han Solo-ish (if you compare to original movies). Overall the editor did good job cutting the excessive humor.
Finn as a character is now much more likable. He's not that goofy any longer which is a major improvement. In the original version it seemed the actor/character was trying way too hard which bothered me. Poe is better as well, although the editor lowered his ace pilot status in one particular battle which I thought didn't work out that well. IMO he's supposed to be an ace, hero pilot and should get a heroic score (which is gone now as well) when blowing bad guys out of the sky.
Now, the biggest change is the portration of Kylo Ren. Very good job on this one! The original Kylo Ren wasn't badly portraited. To me he was just a different kind of a bad guy but DigModiFicaTion made him more mature and simply a better villain. The tantrum is gone and him removing the mask only in front of Han Solo simply works better.
R2D2 was handled ok. Not much to say about that.
I was afraid the ending wouldn't work as I loved the original island ending, but to my surprisement it worked out well. A very nice ending indeed. I might still like the original more but this was a very good ending as well. The hologram was a nice addition. Now the pirates and the monster... see, I have already forgotten their names because I always skip that part. I think the editor did some adjustments there which is nice but I personally would have find a way to cut the whole scene, it's just THAT bad.
Overall the editor has done first class job. I might disagree on some changes or cut out some extra dialogue or parts but this fanedit pleases me and I like this more than the original movie. The visual and audio editing was top notch work as well. I can only recommend this one to everyone!