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.
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.
For the hologram Snoke and the delayed Kylo reveal alone, Digmod gets high marks for this edit. Both of these elements make TFA/HTTF feel much more of-a-piece with the overall saga (I genuinely thought Snoke was a giant on first viewing!). There's plenty of poorly written plot elements that are unfixable, but in terms of visuals and core narrative, this is a huge leap forward.
In terms of structure, I still prefer Hal9000's cut in terms of moving the destruction of the Republic to the climax of the film, casting the entire film in a more doomed, darker light that sets up the sublime nightmare that is The Last Jedi. However, Digmod's cuts/tweaks are simultaneously more subtle and more profound in terms of the overall film. In my perfect world, a hybrid could be made between these two versions, but until then I'm happy to keep both on my shelf and flip a coin as to which one I'll pop in during a rewatch.
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).