Star Wars has always been about sorting the good guys from the bad guys. In a film series with color-coded lightsabers, there's not a whole lot of room for moral ambiguity. And The Force Awakens isn't any different, though it leaves the final destiny of some of its characters up in the air.
Kylo Ren, for instance, may find himself slipping back to Team Good Guy, while Finn seems to be permanently terrified that his former colleagues in the First Order are going to find him. Either way, this galaxy far, far away has never been shy about the defining lines of its conflict.
The film shows us ways that good characters can do evil, and evil characters can do good.
There's no real "crossing over" between good and evil. They both tend to be pretty straightforward.
The Force is a big stand-in for fate in The Force Awakens (along with God, the universe, and any other grand cosmic concept you can think of). As such, there's always been a question about whether the Force has destined these characters for a specific path or whether they get to make their own choices along the way.
We suspect it's a little of both: the Force lays out the options and the characters choose, with the future of the universe hinging on the consequences of those choices. It's fate and free will working together to make the Force do its thing.
So, you know, no pressure, guys.
The universe here is driven by a combination of fate (the Force) and free will (the choices the characters make).
There is no real free will here. The Force is pretty much behind the wheel the whole time.
Neither Finn nor Rey have any friends when we first meet them in The Force Awakens. Cue sad trombone.
The good news is, they find each other in the middle of it all. Friendship holds this galaxy together, and the lengths these characters will go to for their friends—both good and bad—will pretty much define how the galaxy turns out.
Friendship is fostered by the Force for its own reasons.
Friendship stems from individual choices, and the Force picks these characters for great destinies because of their capacity for friendship.
The Hero's Journey is always about coming of age: a young person enters the world and is tested in order to find out who he or she is. Star Wars has always embraced that idea, first with Luke, and then with Anakin during Episodes I-III.
In The Force Awakens, we have two characters coming of age: Rey and Finn, both of whom are running from different things and taking the bit in their teeth when adulthood rears its ugly head. Their comings of age won't stop with this movie, but we'd say they have a pretty good running start at it.
Coming of age for these characters is closely tied with the destiny of the galaxy.
Coming of age is a side effect of their adventures, not the actual purpose.
The Force is God. Or Allah. Or Yahweh. Or fate. Or the grand cosmic hum.
Whatever you want to call it, it's a way of talking about spiritual issues without invoking any specific religions. And, bonus, it lets you move things with your mind.
But strip away the Force magic, and what you're looking at is human meditation with the universe. That helps us connect to the story in The Force Awakens in a very powerful way as well as allows the film to explore spiritual questions.
The heroes embrace the true nature of the Force while the villains only accept one side.
The dark side of the Force is part of the light. One cannot exist without the other.
Han had a kid, messed him up, and split. Luke compounded the messing up of said kid and split. Said kid is extra super mad at both of them, and he's going to show them who's boss. Leia gets to be the grown-up and deal with the fallout.
Sounds like a typical sitcom family to us.
Seriously, family has always informed relations in the Star Wars saga (remember the oft-misquoted "I am your father" or that creepy Luke-Leia kiss?), and The Force Awakens is no different. We see the fallout that comes in the next generation as the heirs of Anakin Skywalker struggle over his legacy and who will have the final word on the whole light side/dark side thing.
The characters here are defined by their blood and can't escape family.
Family means what the characters want it to mean, and it applies to whom they choose instead of to whom they're related.