“Tron” and its “Tron: Legacy” along with “Pixels” count as video game movies. They both take it one step further than movies like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” by bringing the video game to the real world instead of dropping the theoretically real life characters in the video game. Yet they are nearly exact opposites in their approach of merging the war in the virtual world with the real world.

In “Tron”, the video games are a representation of the virtual world. “Tron: Legacy” involves a villain trying to transport from the digital world to the real world, while it ends with a heroine/refugee making it to the real world. (That’s its own tragicomedy.)

On the flipside, “Pixels” features aliens arriving at Earth to invade. They recreate our video game villains in real life. For example, video game recreations are capable of biting someone’s hand off and destroying actual military bases. The heroes are playing video games with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, but if they lose, the real world is destroyed by a swarm of literal space invaders sent by literal space invaders.

The “Tron” movies differ from “Pixels” in subtler ways. When the virtual world is destroyed in “Tron: Legacy”, the threat is over. When the humans win in “Pixels”, the aliens could still come back with a new strategy. The heroes of “Pixels” are winning losers, underdogs who save the world. In “Tron”, the human is transported to the digital world before freeing its members. “Tron: Legacy” passes that job on to his son, and he saves the real world by destroying the virtual world. In both cases, the privileged heroes that created the world determine its fate.

“Pixels” is a fun, save-the-world movie, broadly accessible though panned by critics. “Tron” takes things further by asking a number of philosophical questions. What obligations does the creator have toward the creations? What is the nature of free will, and does it really exist? “Pixels” perhaps raises the question of cheating in a contest to save the world, though this wouldn’t be an issue if your moral system says the ends justify the means. It also ends with the question of whether Q-bert babies would gain human rights or lead to the creation of a whole new legal category.

In summary, “Pixels” is a cute family-friendly video game movie, while “Tron” and “Tron: Legacy” are more intellectual and challenging.


Check out: “The Chapter after Tron Legacy,” Fan Fiction by Tamara Wilhite