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Movies Like 'Tron' to Watch Next

Dive into digital worlds with these movies like 'Tron.'
by Annie Lyons — 
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'Tron'

Disney

It's been 40 years since the digital world of Tronfirst uploaded into theaters. 

Written and directed by Steven Lisberge, the Disney science fiction film follows expert computer programmer and video game developer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). A former employee of computer corporation ENCOM, Flynn now searches for proof that the company's senior vice president plagiarized his work. However, when he begins hacking into the ENCOM mainframe, a rogue artificial intelligence operating system called the Master Control Program digitizes him and transports him into the computer's software world known as "The Grid." Flynn must play games and outwit the MCP to escape, enlisting the help of humanized computer programs including a security program named Tron (Bruce Boxleitner). 

Tron received a mixed response from critics and has a Metascore of 58. However, the film represents a landmark in cinema history for being one of the first films to use extensive computer-generated imagery. While its visuals may feel dated today, they were groundbreaking at the time and required a unique combination of live-action elements, backlit animation, and computer animation. The film also received Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Sound. 

The movie also started a wider multimedia franchise. Nearly three decades after Tron's release, Bridges and Boxleitner reprised their roles in a sequel, Tron: Legacy. This was followed by an animated series Tron: Uprising. The franchise also includes a comic book miniseries and numerous video games, including a classic arcade game that was launched after the original film's release. 

If you enjoy Tron's iconic light cycle race and are now looking for more movie cyberspaces to explore, Metacritic has compiled a list of movies with similar themes and concepts. This list will appeal to Tron fans looking for more 1980s nostalgia, films about playing games against computers, and stories in which technology enables humans to explore a new reality. 

Here, Metacritic highlights 10 movies like Tron to watch next. 


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Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner'

Warner Bros. Pictures

Blade Runner

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of cyberpunk and neo-noir crime thrillers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, , Netflix,
Runtime: 117 minutes

Director Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is another 1982 science fiction film that became a cult classic and inspired a sequel decades later. While much darker in tone than Tron, Blade Runner similarly considers themes about technology amidst a unique neon-infused production design. Based on Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film takes place in a high-tech but dystopian future. When a group of bioengineered humanoids escape, cop Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) reluctantly agrees to track them down through the decaying Los Angeles underworld. The highly acclaimed 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049 continues the story. 

"Grand enough in scale to carry its many Biblical and mythological references, Blade Runner never feels heavy or pretentious — only more and more engrossing with each viewing. It helps, too, that it works as pure entertainment." — Rita Kempley, Washington Post


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'Paprika'

Sony Pictures

Paprika (2006)

Metascore: 81
Best for: Fans of Japanese anime and mind-bending science fiction that questions reality
Where to watch:

, , , Vudu
Runtime: 90 minutes

Much like Tron, computer technology enables the protagonist of this Japanese anime film to experience a new reality. Only instead of exploring cyberspace like Flynn, Dr. Atsuko Chiba (Megumi Hayashibara) journeys through others' dreams, thanks to a device called the DC Mini. The device is intended to help psychiatric patients but has the potential to destroy people's minds. After the DC Mini is stolen by a malicious figure, Chiba and her dream alter-ego Paprika must journey through the dream world to recover it. Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paprika captures the strange nature of the subconscious through trippy animated visuals. 

"The intersections between sleep and waking, memory, cinema, and the Internet lead to a spectacular battle of titans who spring from the mind's darkest recesses." — Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader


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Matthew Broderick in 'WarGames'

MGM

WarGames

Metascore: 77 
Best for: Fans of movies where humans must outsmart technology and Cold War thrillers 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 114 minutes

Teenage hacker David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) might not get digitized like Flynn, but when he faces off against a rogue computer program, the stakes are even higher. Directed by John Badham, this Oscar-nominated science fiction thriller takes place during the Cold War. David unwittingly hacks into a military supercomputer called WOPR and initiates a nuclear war simulation, thinking that it's a computer game. Only, WOPR doesn't understand the difference between games and reality, and convinces military personnel of an actual Soviet missile attack. As tensions escalate, it's up to David to stop World War III. 

"More important is how WarGames plays up the contrast between teenagers — rebellious on the surface but conformist by nature — with a cynical adult world that has become convinced that nuclear annihilation might not be so bad." — Noel Murray, The A.V. Club


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Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix'

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Matrix

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of cyberpunk and martial arts-inspired action sequences
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, , Tubi, Vudu
Runtime: 136 minutes

In this highly influential science fiction film,intelligent machines control humanity in a dystopian future. The machines brainwash humans by keeping their minds trapped in a simulated reality called the Matrix. Written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the film follows computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he uncovers the truth of his existence and joins a rebellion against the machines. The Matrix earned widespread critical acclaim and won all four Oscars it was nominated for. The film's success led to a greater franchise and three sequel films, most recently The Matrix Resurrections

"This dazzling pop allegory is steeped in a dark, pulpy sensibility that transcends nostalgic pastiche and stands firmly on its own merits." — Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide Magazine


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Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law in 'eXistenZ'

Dimension Films

eXistenZ

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of science fiction horror and films that make you question what's real
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , Vudu
Runtime: 97 minutes

Directed and written by David Cronenberg, eXistenZ imagines a world where people surgically insert connectors into their spine to play virtual reality games. At a focus group for her latest game, successful video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is shot by a fanatic. The attack possibly damages the only copy of her new game. Desperate to save it, she enlists the help of publicist Ted (Jude Law). While still on the run from assassins, the pair enter Allegra's game together, causing the line between reality and the artificial world to blur.  

"Cronenberg's written (spottily) and directed (stunningly) a movie that often makes you feel as if you'd lost contact with reality: a twisted, nightmarish tale of futuristic reality games and a couple on the run." — Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune


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Lance Guest in 'The Last Starfighter'

Universal Pictures

The Last Starfighter

Metascore: 67
Best for: Fans of '80s science fiction and space adventures
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 101 minutes

For those interested in the evolution of special effects, this 1984 space opera is another one of the earliest films to use extensive CGI. Directed by Nick Castle, The Last Starfighter follows the adventures of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an aimless teen who enjoys a space battle arcade game called Starfighter. After he becomes the game's highest scorer, an alien reveals that Starfighter is based on a real intergalactic conflict and recruits Alex to join the fight. The film inspired multiple other adaptations, including a musical, a Marvel Comics limited series, and a novel. 

"At once warmly earthbound and nobly starstruck, it should give receptive spectators a savory pick-me-up." — Gary Arnold, Washington Post


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'Ready Player One'

Warner Bros. Pictures

Ready Player One

Metascore: 64
Best for: Fans of stories that explore virtual reality and pop culture references
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , Vudu
Runtime: 140 minutes

Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Ernest Cline's novel of the same title, Ready Player One is a science fiction adventure that takes place in a dystopian near-feature. People use an expansive virtual reality universe named the OASIS to escape their dreary realities, including teenage orphan Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan). Following the death of the VR universe's creator, Wade enters a contest to win ownership of the OASIS. Together with his allies, he must complete three challenges, all while competing against a corporation with ill intentions. The film features many pop culture homages and received praise for its visual effects, earning an Oscar nomination. 

"It's an accomplished and intermittently hypnotic movie. Yet you may feel like you're occupied more than you are invested." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety


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Ryan Reynolds and Lil Rel Howery in "Free Guy'

20th Century Studios

Free Guy

Metascore: 61
Best for: Fans of stories about video games and action comedies
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu 
Runtime: 115 minutes

If you ever wondered what it might be like if Tron focused on the perspective of an ENCOM program, this action comedy is for you. Free Guy revolves on a massively multiplayer online role-playing video game called Free City. Software developer Millie (Jodie Comer) plays the game searching for proof that its source code was stolen from her. Enter Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a bank teller and non-playable character who is initially unaware that he lives in a video game, or that his whole life is scripted by code. However, after a chance meeting with Millie's avatar, he begins to deviate from his programmed routine. 

"An enjoyable cast, including movie-stealing work from Jodie Comer, holds it all together, but one can still see just enough glitches in this matrix to wish it was better." — Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com


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'Electric Dreams'

MGM

Electric Dreams

Metascore: 52
Best for: Fans of '80s cheesiness and humorous takes on artificial intelligence
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , Tubi, Vudu
Runtime: 95 minutes

If you enjoy Tron for its nostalgic 1980s take on technology, you might enjoy this 1984 computer-themed comedy. Electric Dreams explores the rising popularity of personal computers through the lens of a romantic comedy. Directed by Steve Barron, the film follows architect Miles Harding (Lenny Von Dohlen) after he decides to buy a personal computer for a new project. One day, the computer overheats, causing Miles to panic and try to cool it down with champagne. The machine gains sentience, names itself Edgar, and competes with Miles for the affections of his neighbor Madeline (Virginia Madsen). 

"Dated of course, being typically 80s, but maintains a certain charm." — Liz Beardsworth, Empire


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Jonny Lee Miller in 'Hackers'

MGM

Hackers

Metascore: 46
Best for: Fans of early film depictions of the Internet and stories about cybersecurity
Where to watch:

, , iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 107 minutes

This 1995 high-tech crime thriller is an early exploration of an Internet-inspired subculture. Directed by Iain Softley, Hackers follows expert hacker Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller), aka "Crash Override," who was banned from touching computers after crashing more than 1,500 Wall Street computers at age 11. After the ban lifts on his 18th birthday, he joins a group of other teen hackers, including Kate "Acid Burn" Libby (Angelina Jolie). However, the friends soon get inadvertently involved in a corporate extortion conspiracy. Similar to Tron, Hackers uses colorful, non-realistic visuals to depict cyberspace, for example imagining files as a neon city. 

"A lot of attention has gone into the film's video games, computer imagery and costumes, to the point where simply watching these artifacts is half the fun...But eventually Hackers turns tedious, perhaps not realizing that an audience can get tired of the same old equations floating in cyberspace." — Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times