This piece contains spoilers for THE FORCE AWAKENS, but if you care and haven’t seen it yet then where have you been? There’s also a reference to the twist in IRON MAN 3, just FYI.
I’ve seen the seventh STAR WARS film four times now and, five months on, what I said in my original review from December for me still broadly holds true.
All the references to the previous entries in the saga and the love of the craft shown in every scene makes this an entertaining Star Wars movie. Despite annoyingly repeating the same flying-into-something-to-blow-it-up finale, it’s the chemistry between, and soul behind characters old and especially new makes this a good movie all-round.
What makes The Force Awakens such an interesting film is arguably as much the questions it doesn’t answer as those it does. JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan sure know how to leave you dangling, but they also make you yearn to find out more over the course of another adventure.
The big questions from the fandom seem to be threefold: 1. Who is Rey? 2. Who is Snoke? 3. Why did Luke leave?
As to the first question a popular fan theory points to Rey being Obi-wan’s granddaughter. I think it would be too obvious for her to be another Skywalker, although Leia does seem to give her a subtext-heavy hug during the film’s finale. I could buy the Obi-wan theory as there are references to him throughout the film (notably Rey’s Force vision), their behaviour is similar and despite being a celibate Jedi, Kenobi was in exile on Tatooine for years. I do have to wonder if Rey really has to be related to any original series character. Couldn’t she just be Rey, who is who she is purely because she is strong off of her own back, abandoned in the wasteland by unloving, unready and unknown parents? The Force might be more likely to manifest in families strong with it, but as far as we can gather (just look at Anakin) things can just happen. The Force works in mysterious ways…
Next, who or what is Snoke? Fan theories have ranged from Palpatine’s supposedly murdered master Darth Plagueis (the top result on Google) to a resurrected Darth Vader (aparently they look like they share scars), but from what we’ve seen of him the answer may be far simpler. All we know is that he chooses to manifest as a giant hologram and can exert a lot of influence over others. Snoke may well be less than meets the eye. I think it would be a bold and interesting decision to reveal the new Emperor as a charlatan who’s just really good at manipulating his image. If this were the case it might annoy some viewers, but I loved the similar divisive twist in IRON MAN 3, so you can see the kind of brave plot turns I tend to appreciate.
Finally, why did Luke leave? This one is brought up by Han Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon. He says that Luke began training the next generation of Jedi until his nephew Ben/Kylo Ren turned to the dark side and destroyed all his good work. Then he vanished, said to be searching for the first Jedi temple in the far reaches of the galaxy. Was he trying to find the source of the Force or a means to turn Ben back to the light or was he simply ashamed and in need of solitude. When we finally see him being confronted by Rey holding out his old lightsaber, I would imagine he is feeling conflicted. Optimists might say Luke was just waiting for the next promising student to prove themselves by finding him, but it might just be that he never wanted to be found, that he self-imposed his exile like Yoda and Obi-wan did before him.
In addition we never find out how Kylo Ren got Vader’s helmet or how Maz Kanata got Luke’s lightsaber, whether Han committed suicide or if Ben was always going to murder his father or what the New Galactic Republic is doing as The Resistance fights its war against the ambiguously powerful First Order. I’m sure we’ll find the answers to some of these questions in sequels and others will perhaps be left open to interpretation. I hope that when they do come, the answers we do get are at least interesting, or at least not the most obvious options available. SSP