What is the best ever Shrek film? Ranking the first four films from best to worst as sequel announced

Shrek is one of the most successful film franchises of the 21st century. (Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)Shrek is one of the most successful film franchises of the 21st century. (Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Shrek is one of the most successful film franchises of the 21st century. (Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection) | (Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Shrek released a total of four films between 2001 and 2010 and established itself as one of the most successful animation comedies of all time

Popular fantasy film franchise Shrek is returning for a fifth sequel, according to reports. The fairytale comedy which was originally released in 2001 proved to be a huge box office success in cinemas and it featured a star-studded cast of actors such as Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz. The success of the first film inspired a further three sequels in the following nine years and made the Shrek movies one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

A potential return for Shrek will be a huge talking point among many film fans who will wonder if the new film can live up to the high standards of the prequels. With that in mind we have taken a look back at all four Shrek films and ranked them from best to worst.

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What is the best ever Shrek film?

The Shrek Cinematic Universe captured the hearts of many film fans during the early 2000s with its humour, storylines and intelligent cinema referencing. In total there were four Shrek films released between 2001 and 2010 and a series of spin offs including two Puss in Boots films, two TV specials and even a West End musical. This list focuses specifically on the four main Shrek films which were released between the years of 2001 and 2010 and doesn’t include any spin-offs such as Shrek the Halls.

4. Shrek the Third (2007)

Third time is not always the charm and that is proven by the release of Shrek the Third in 2007. The plot of Shrek 3 is centred around Prince Charming who is on a revenge mission to avenge the death of his mother and become the king. Charming is determined to overthrow Shrek and Fiona who have inherited royal status after the death of King Harold. Shrek has no interest in ruling the kingdom and is determined to make a return to married life on his peaceful and solitary swamp.  In a bid to avoid royal duties Shrek goes on a mission to find Fiona’s underachieving cousin Artie and convince him to reign as the monarch instead.

Charming with the help of other fairytale villains plots to use this opportunity to take the crown and have is “happy ever after.” Shrek the Third is by no means a disaster and there are some funny moments in the high school where Artie is found and during Prince Charming's terrible attempts at theatre. However, the third sequel fails to live up to the extremely high standards of the first two films - it lacks new ideas, fails to add any funny new characters and it has a soundtrack that is much less iconic than the previous two films.

3. Shrek Forever After (2010)

Shrek the Third was not the final nail in the coffin of the franchise and the fourth sequel arrived three years later with the tagline “It ain’t ogre - till it’s ogre.” Shrek Forever After is a good natured family comedy and it is a more fitting end to the series than its prequel Shrek the Third.

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The fourth film is the most convoluted of the series and its plot introduces alternative realities and time travel as Shrek signs a contract with Rumpelstiltskin which creates an alternative reality where he never rescued Fiona from the tower and never became a family man. Shrek Forever After has elements of the popular Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life in terms of its storyline and it gives viewers a greater insight into Shrek as a character. Rumpelstiltskin is also a fun villain and the storyline offers more laughs in the form of the iconic “Do the roar” line.

Shrek Forever After has more of an original and intriguing storyline than its predecessor but many of the beloved characters feel more bland in comparison to the previous movies and the soundtrack fails to hit the heights of the first two films.

2. Shrek (2001)

The original Shrek film burst onto the cinema screens in 2001 and proved to be an instant success with fans around the world, pulling in a strong audience from a variety of different age groups. Shrek instantly hits viewers with the opening song All Star and from there it is hard not to be hooked. The opening film introduces popular characters from the fairytale world such as Donkey, Princess Fiona, Dragon and the miniature antagonist Lord Farquaad.

The plot follows Shrek as he makes the quest to find Fiona from the tallest room in the tallest tower while overcoming the threat of a fire breathing dragon. Shrek has an incredibly iconic soundtrack with songs such as All Star, Hallelujah, Bad Reputation and I’m On My Way and the interactions between Shrek and Donkey are comedy gold with quotes such as “Ogres are like onions”, “That will do Donkey.” and “Get out of my swamp!”

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1. Shrek 2 (2004)

It was a close call for top spot and fans could easily make a compelling case for both of the first two sequels but Shrek 2 narrowly tops the list. Dubbed by some fans as the best sequel of all time. Shrek 2 is a five star cinema masterpiece which helped establish Shrek as one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.

Shrek 2 had a hard act to follow with the original film but its storyline is equally intriguing and it is centred around Shrek’s journey to meet and impress Fiona’s royal family at the magical kingdom of Far Far Away. The film introduces a range of memorable characters including Puss In Boots, Prince Charming, King Harold and the Fairy Godmother.

Shrek 2 does a great job of establishing the new characters and the setting of a Los Angeles-style kingdom makes the world feel so lived in, the tension of the storyline and the iconic rendition of Holding Out For A Hero also makes it a compelling watch for the viewer.

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