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ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT

Out To Sea
Granny is a surprise castaway when Manny, Diego and Sid are swept out to sea on an iceberg following Scrat's continental crack-up. But her addled antics are the least of the boys' problems. They've been captured by a band of pirates, led by the fearsome orangutan Captain Gutt, voiced by Emmy®-winner Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones"). A self-styled king of the ocean and pirate of all pirates, Gutt loves being a brigand and living by the strict code of the sea. He's earned the name "Gutt" from having big claws that he's not afraid to use. As Gutt proudly boasts, he can turn your innards into your "outards." You don't want to mess with him.

That is, unless you're Manny, who must challenge Gutt because the pirate captain is standing in the way of the mammoth's return to his family. They are formidable, evenly matched foes. "Manny and the herd beat the dinosaurs in their last adventure, so we knew we had to come up with a bigger-than-life adversary for Manny," says producer John C. Donkin. Adds Thurmeier: "Gutt doesn't like being told 'No,' and Manny, being a strong personality, isn't afraid to take him on."

Gutt is voiced by Peter Dinklage, whose role as Tyrion Lannister in the series "Game of Thrones" has earned superstardom and accolades. The actor's rich, deep voice conveys Gutt's power and gravitas, and Dinklage's comedic and acting skills bring to life the humor and fun. "What appealed to me about Gutt was that I had never before played a pirate orangutan, and I'm not sure I'll get such an opportunity again, so when these jobs come up, you grab them," he jokes about making his animated feature film debut. "I enjoyed playing Gutt's anger management issues. He's quick to remind everyone who's in charge."

Gutt is a dark version of Manny, especially in their views about family. Manny has become the ultimate family guy - married, with a teen daughter, and a father figure to his extended clan, including Diego and Sid. He believes that family gives you strength. Gutt thinks family holds you back and makes you weak, though as Dinklage observes, his "mates and crew are a version of a family." So let's meet Gutt's crew/family:

SHIRA (Jennifer Lopez) is the aforementioned beautiful and dangerous sabre-toothed tiger who battles Diego - only to lose her heart to him.

FLYNN ("Hot Fuzz's" and "Shaun of the Dead's" Nick Frost) is Gutt's first mate, a jiggly, gelatinous, 4,000-pound elephant seal. When he comes waddling into a scene, and then stops, his belly continues moving forward! He's easily the biggest member of the crew, but, says Martino, "he's also like a kid. Flynn has the enthusiasm of a young child, wrapped in an enormous frame." Adds Nick Frost: "Flynn always sees the best in people, even Gutt, which is quite a difficult thing to do."

SQUINT ("Parks and Recreation's" Aziz Ansari) is the pirate crew's smallest but scrappiest member -- an over-caffeinated bunny with a Napoleon Complex. "Squint can't help it that he's got a cute little bunny nose, tail and ears," says Thurmeier. Adds Ansari: "Squint's always ready to fight, but never gets to chop it up with anybody."

GUPTA ("The Big Bang Theory's" Kunal Nayyar) is a prehistoric badger whose back is patterned with a skull and crossbones - the iconic pirate flag, the Jolly Roger. So he makes for a perfect ship's pennant. Unfortunately for Gupta, his underbelly is white, the color of surrender, which angers Gutt. "Gupta always wants to fly his white side, and nothing ticks off Gutt more than surrendering," says Nayyar.

RAZ ("Bridesmaids'" Rebel Wilson) is an enormous prehistoric kangaroo and the crew's weapons master. She's tall, tough, and despite her gender, the epitome of a burly pirate.

SILAS ("Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian's" Alain Chabat) is an aristocratic French seagull - prim, proper, and possessing a strong posture.

DOBSON is a silent, salty and curmudgeonly seaman - and a mumbling and grumbling complainer. He's the polar opposite of the cheerful Flynn.

Peter de Seve's ingenious character designs style the buccaneers to look like they're wearing classic pirate garb or facial hair (Gutt's craggly beard, Dobson's mutton chop sideburns, Flynn's wily whiskers), all of which is actually fur that is groomed, colored and shaped to create the "costumes" and scruff.

This menagerie of pirates, in addition to taking prisoner Manny, Sid and Diego, has forced into servitude guinea pig-like creatures called the Hyrax - cute balls of squishy love that "could very well become the film's breakout characters," says Martino. Realizing that the enemies (the Hyrax) of their enemies (Gutt & Co.) could make for formidable allies, Manny, Diego and Sid make a deal with the Hyrax: if they help steal Gutt's ship, which Manny hopes will return him to his family, the herd will free the Hyrax from the pirate's clutches. Helping to seal the deal is the fact that only Sid can communicate with the Hyrax, who have a unique language. Says Leguizamo: "Sid and the Hyrax speak through a bit of mime and 'click-clack' talk," referencing the creatures' tongue-clicking speech.

Also taking center stage in ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT is Mother Nature herself, via the filmmakers' depictions of: the Scrat-induced continental cataclysm, the ocean upon which the herd is swept away, a vicious storm that puts our three heroes at great risk, and the looming threat of the palisades - an 800-foot wall chasing, and threatening to crush Ellie, Peaches and the other creatures remaining on land.

The word "epic" was at the top of everyone's mind in the design of these environments and natural disasters. "It is epic when you see a mammoth, Manny, look like a tiny dot atop an iceberg being hurtled through an oceanic storm," says Thurmeier. "With each new 'Ice Age' movie, we take major steps forward in putting our characters in larger, more elaborate, and more thrilling environments."

Chief among those environments is the vast and unforgiving ocean. To maximize the scale of the characters' peril - and to sweep audiences along for the ride - the filmmakers employed newly developed technologies. They were successful beyond their expectations: when the voice cast saw some early footage of the storm scene, they thought the filmmakers had filmed an actual ocean, which, they assumed was blended with the animated characters.

The ocean is no less compelling when it's becalmed. Its rich atmospherics - the mist and mystery of being at sea - are an extension of the characters, especially the pirates, as are the vast, open skies punctuated by cloud formations. To capture the environments, the filmmakers, for the first time in the "Ice Age" franchise, shot in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35: 1, which enhances the feeling of the characters being dwarfed by their surroundings.

The ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT research and development team also developed new technologies for some spectacular land-based locales, including a cave where trees hang from the ceiling, literally turning the earth under the characters upside-down; the ubiquitous threat of crumbling earth and rocks; and the icebergs serving as the ships, each possessing a unique "personality" and color.

Another key filmmaking tool was 3D. Notes Martino: "Our story takes audiences on an adventure, and 3D further immerses them in the story. When Manny, Diego and Sid ride some giant waves during a storm, 3D allows us to place the audience with the characters on the waves, and have them feel like they're part of the action."

"We were always looking for new ways to give the audience a really interesting experienc

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