We ended up going straight from watching Shrek to seeing the sequel, so I was already in the right frame of mind to enjoy myself. That said, Shrek 2 really didn't disappoint at all. Yes, there's a bit more reliance on pop culture references for the jokes, but the core satirical humour and excellent voice acting is still all there, and the overarching plot is different enough from the original to hold up still.
Whilst Shrek was the childhood favourite, Shrek 2 has always been a close second, and I think that still holds true. There are elements to this film which are genuine improvements on the formula, not least of which is the serious CGI bump. The plot has more nuance, the world is expanded on very cleverly, and the wider character set allows for some more interesting action sequences. That all culminates in the exceptional finale, played out to Bonnie Tyler's I Need A Hero in a sequence that is a classic in its own right. Oh, and of course Puss is that rarest of creations: an add on character who instantly becomes an accepted and almost required part of the team.
I was surprised, though, to find that whilst those final 20 minutes are seared into my memory, I'd retained very little else on top of it. In some ways, that was really quite fun; unlike Shrek, I was able to rewatch the sequel with almost fresh eyes. I'd completely forgotten about the setup for the film, including the honeymoon sequence (so. many. pop. culture. references 😂) and had even forgotten about the Happily Ever After potion, so it was a lot of fun to "re" watch.
The music may not be quite as good as the original (that final couple of songs aside), but the expanded cast, world, and storyline all more than make up for it. I don't hold out much hope for the third and fourth installments, but it's great to see that #1 and #2 in the Shrek saga remain excellent, entertaining movies that everyone should love.