All six films in the Shrek Cinematic Universe, definitively ranked from worst to best
The SCU is what the MCU wishes it was
The Shrek Cinematic Universe – the SCU, if you will – is one very dear to my heart. I was not a Disney child – too saccharine, but Shrek with all its humour, its cinema referencing and its clever writing was so special to me. I’m a pop culture writer, and Shrek has always been a franchise that has pop culture at its heart. The SCU has reached a total of six films now, and with a fifth instalment confirmed and in production (and teased at the end of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish) there’s not better time to get the Shrek films ranked DEFINITIVELY from worst to best.
I am wilfully ignoring the short specials – so please do not try to bring the likes of Shrek The Halls to my door.
6. Shrek the Third
Third time is not always a charm, as Shrek number three proves. It’s hard to tell what fully went wrong with this one, but it just undoubtedly does not hit right. Besides a few great moments like the false alarm froggy deaths of Harold and the great “Totally eweth” line, it all just doesn’t feel as fun and romp-like as the films prior to it. Thankfully, it wasn’t the nail in the Shreky coffin despite the evil, evil Justin Timberlake trying his best to make it so.
5. Shrek Forever After
Shrek’s fourth film is its most convoluted, with a plot centring around alternate realities and all that entails. Some huge laughs in the form of DO THE ROAR, and a more original and fun story than Shrek the Third, but I mourn the characters in their real forms all together and interacting and that’s what drags this one down for me when getting Shrek films ranked.
4. Puss in Boots
I know some people think it should have been Donkey who got the spin off franchise, but those people are babies. Donkey’s humour is too broad, Puss’ is rich. The Spanish culture and flavour! The bravado adventurer feel! I love it. Great use of Americano by Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek Pinault is an icon. The cat going “Ooooooh!” is deeply legendary, but the best was yet to come.
3. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Into the Spiderversification of the Shrek franchise hits new heights with the unexpectedly outstanding Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – a beautifully animated feast for the eyes, the senses and everything else you could ever hope for. Despite an iffy accented voice acting performance from Florence Pugh, Puss 2 is a gorgeously animated delight that crash, bang, wallops its way through its story and manages to leave you crying by the end. All the pop culture references feel correct, the cast are so likeable and the wolf is one of the scariest villains I’ve seen in a kids film in a long while. Brilliant stuff.
Hey now, you’re an all star! Where it all began, and boy, what a beginning. Shrek still feels unshakeably fresh, a film turning everything you think you know on its head at every turn with a soundtrack to worship at the altar of and a host of endless fairytale characters each more memorable than the last. Everyone’s on top form, the simple fetch quest story works wonderfully to introduce us to this land, and what a land it is. Special shoutout to the entire film: Shrek and Donkey’s arrival at DuLoc. “Shine your shoes, wipe your… face!”
1. Shrek 2
The greatest sequel of all time. PERIOD. An absolute five-star masterpiece, the peak of animated storytelling and one of the funniest films ever made. Every inch of Shrek 2 is perfect – it is bigger and better in every way than any other film in this franchise. The journey to Far Far Away and the Los Angelesian feel to the place just makes the Shrek world feel so lived in, and the Fairy Godmother has to honestly be one of the greatest villains in cinema history. The jokes! The soundtrack! The tension of the storyline! The themes of loving yourself and being authentic to you despite societal pressure! We are not worthy – no Shrek franchise films will ever manage to be ranked higher than this one I fear.