Sorry for the late reply, but I have watched the edit in its entirety.
I like the direction you tried to go down. When written down I think it works great. But when it comes to such radical editing, it becomes challenging to convince the person watching what is happening is how it is supposed to work. The best edits are the ones you don’t notice, and I am sad to say that many of your cuts felt that way for me. That’s not to say you didn’t do a good job: it is clear you tried, but certain sequences just have different lighting, costumes, or shots. And I think there may be a way around that: if we have the proper setup.
Let’s begin with the first scene. Setting it on Vader’s Castle is cool, I like this change. But it does bring about some logic questions. Hux says the machine is ready, Snoke says to use it. But Hux is at Mustafar. And Snoke is on Starkiller? Or is he on the Supremacy? You can see how just the first line has so many unintended consequences. There’s this paradox where an editor cuts something and it makes sense- to them, but when you show it to someone without any explanation it becomes confusing. I, unfortunately, felt that way many times.
But enough with the specifics. Starting with Takodona cuts right to the chase. BUT, we don’t get a proper introduction to these two new characters Rey and Finn. Who are they? The crawl mentions “a scavenger” but what about Finn?
My solution: Start the movie as The Force Awakens starts. Have the cool shot of Stormtroopers prepping for battle, then cut straight to a fight removing Poe. Kylo Ren makes a big entrance and everyone gets a moment to meet this guy. Then he talks to the old man, and it is implied the old man has already sent the map away. Kylo kills the old man, and we jump cut to Rey’s scavenger mask. The movie plays as usual, only we don’t know about BB8 until Finn says he’s got the map. To save time we’ll make Finn a real resistance agent (I think this was what you were going for).
While they are on the run, we get to keep cutting back to Kylo and Hux. This builds their presence in the story. Rey and Finn team up and fly the falcon away, then they are caught by Han and Chewie who will also be resistance agents. Add some “happy” music and have Finn say “resistance”, it should get the job done. Han and Chewie could have just lost the Falcon on one of their adventures in the rebellion.
I think that alone will really help the edit, not only increasing the runtime but giving us a reason to care about these new faces.
However, my biggest concern has to be the setup of the final battle. There is a lot at stake here, but it doesn’t flow too well. First Leia’s death. The random cut to the Supremacy was the only moment I was entirely taken out of the experience. It didn’t work for me. I think the solution would be to have the Raddus join the battle at Starkiller. You can have the shot of the fleet emerging at of nowhere and then cut right to Starkiller. This will convey the message and explain why Kylo is out in space. The Supremacy could be one of many ships guarding it.
That all being said, I loved the Leia death. It’s a bold choice that plays out perfectly. Ben smashing the helmet brings chills.
So keep Leia’s death but give it a bit more continuity. Onto the Han/Finn plotline, does Rey just appear out of nowhere? I am confused regarding this point. What if instead, Rey surrenders herself willingly to the First Order, and is then “rescued”/found by Finn? It is a bit convoluted but would explain her temporary change of clothing.
My final suggestion concerns Starkiller Base. The emphasis on the epilogue is clearly on Kylo Ren. The result, in my opinion, is the entire “battle” feels on the backburner. This may just be my POV, but I was never invested in the third death star angle. So I suggest Starkiller succeeds in destroying the Republic near the end of the movie. Make all hope seem lost. As the sky turns red, Kylo finally turns to the light just as they are too late. This would be a bittersweet ending. Plaguies would have a clear overconfidence syndrome. But this suggestion isn’t really about the continuity… more of a preference.
Overall, I enjoyed your vision. Leia’s death was great, and Ben’s redemption a real conclusion. I think looking at what you had (only two movies and some deleted scenes, no dallies or voice actors etc) you did a great job. These kinds of “creative” edits are my favorite.