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It’s been over twenty years since Dreamworks Animation released the very first Shrekmovie, launching a franchise that has stood the test of time, one that appealed to not just children, but adults as well. And that story about a grumpy ogre who falls in love remains a top-tier film that has now spawned three sequels and two spin-off films.

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With the release of the latest film in the franchise, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, it felt only right to venture back into the swamp and take a look at all six films in the Shrek Universe. And whether it’s a not-so-classic love story, a tale of family betrayal or the ultimate midlife crisis, there’s plenty to love in these movies.

6 ‘Shrek The Third’ (2007) – 41%

While on his deathbed, Fiona’s father, King Harold, tells Shrek that he wants him to take over the kingdom, but Shrek does not want that. Harold tells Shrek there’s another heir, so Shrek goes on a journey to find him. While away, Prince Charming gathers an army of villains to take over Far Far Away and install himself as king, and Fiona and the other princesses must band together and fight to save their home.

Shrek The Third is a sequel that gets a lot of unwarranted hate, but it actually tells a pretty solid story. Shrek gets to be his old grumpy self a bit more in this one than in the previous one, especially when dealing with a young, petulant Arthur Pendragon, who gets to be a king in this without even having to pull a sword from a stone. It was hilarious to see Donkey and Puss switch places, forcing the actors to adapt the mannerisms of the other. And seeing the princesses take charge and kick butt, instead of just waiting around to be rescued was great. Also, we get to see Donkey and Dragon’s babies that were shown at the end of the second film, as well as Shrek and Fiona’s babies at the end of this one. Their story has progressed perfectly throughout the first three films, and will continue to in the next.

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5 ‘Shrek Forever After’ (2010) – 57%

Shrek is now a family man. He’s a husband and father, a beloved member of the community… everything he never thought he’d be. But recently, he’s been frustrated and just wants his old life back. So, he makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to have that life back for just one day – a vacation of sorts. But what Shrek doesn’t know is that the cost is far greater than he anticipated, as Rumpelstiltskin makes it so that he was never born!

What starts off as a film about a man (or ogre, in this case) going through a midlife crisis, quickly turns into a version of It’s A Wonderful Life, sending Shrek into a version of reality where things are very different, and not for the better. Shrek Forever After was much more interesting than the previous film, allowing Fiona to really shine as an ogre and a leader, and also introducing a bunch of other ogres, which is something we hadn’t seen yet.

4 ‘Puss In Boots’ (2011) – 86%

This prequel spin-off tells the origin story of the famed swashbuckling cat, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), who first appeared in the second Shrek film. Years after his foster brother, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), ruined his life, they reconnect and try to make amends. In doing so, they go on a quest to steal the fabled Golden Goose, but Puss soon discovers that not everything is as it seems.

This is a great addition to the Shrek universe, diving into the past of one of the best characters of the entire franchise. Puss In Boots has a completely different tone from the other films, which helps make it feel fresh, and not just a retread of things we’ve seen. Puss’ interactions with Kitty Softpaws (Selma Hayek) are wonderful. They play off of one another so well. The film does a great job of expanding this world with characters from famous fairy tale stories that we haven’t met yet, while still keeping the focus on Puss.

3 ‘Shrek’ (2001) – 88%

The very first film in the franchise tells the story of the titular character, Shrek (Mike Myers), an ogre who just wants to be left alone in his swamp. He is hired by Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) to journey to a far away tower to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), so he can marry her and become king. But in the process of rescuing her, Shrek falls in love with Fiona, and must find out if she feels the same.

This is the film that really put Dreamworks Animation on the map. Mike Myers gives such a fantastic performance and finds a perfect partnership with Eddie Murphy, who plays Donkey. It’s a simple, straightforward tale that doesn’t get too wrapped up in complicated storylines, and that’s what makes it work so well.

2 ‘Shrek 2’ (2004) – 89%

Shrek 2 picks up shortly after the end of the first film with Shrek and Fiona on their honeymoon. After they return, Fiona decides it’s time to introduce her new husband to her parents. However, this doesn’t go quite as she planned. Feeling rejected by Fiona’s father, Shrek seeks out the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) for a potion to make him handsome, so that her father, and everyone else, might finally accept him.

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This is a great sequel that takes this wonderful world and builds on it in some surprising ways. We are introduced to several new characters, including Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), the aforementioned Fairy Godmother, and the feline swashbuckler Puss in Boots. Shrek 2 takes a much more fantastical approach to the story, leaning far more into the world of fairy tale characters. And at the end, we get to see the return of Dragon and her and Donkey’s hybrid babies!

1 ‘Puss In Boots: The Last Wish’ (2022) – 97%

After years of adventuring, the infamous Puss in Boots discovers that he is on his ninth, and final, life, and decides it’s time to hang up the boots. But, when he learns of a magical wishing star that could restore all of his lost lives, he sets out on a journey to find it, alongside his old friend Kitty Softpaws, and new friend Perrito.

The latest installment in the Shrek Universe, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish sees the return of Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek as Puss and Kitty. It’s been eleven years since we last saw them, and their chemistry with these characters hasn’t lost a step. If anything, it’s gotten better. It also utilizes some unique animation techniques, which really make the film stand out. This is, by far, the best film in the entire franchise, which should give fans hope for the upcoming fifth Shrek film coming out in 2023.

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