Tuned In: Summer Pop Culture Preview

By: James Cassar
When the pencils are thrown down for their last exam hurrah and THS’ digitized bell sounds its final clang, it’s obvious that the knowledge involuntarily absorbed finally gets flushed out by virtual highways of the screen, the earbud, and the analog stick. So when summer finally sounds its alarm, at least you’ll know what the storm of pop culture will bring. Get soaked!
Our feature presentation: Get ready to ride the Regal rollercoaster. As with any teenage summer, 2011 brings a boatload of summer blockbusters sure to satisfy even hipsters and haters.
Cars 2 shoots out of the cinema chute in signature Pixar fashion, rebooting the 2007 film’s characters and voice actors in a new James Bond-esque backdrop. (hits June 24)
Transformers crashes into July with its trilogy-topper Dark of the Moon, which rages on without Megan Fox and already too many Pink Floyd references. Great. (hits July 1)
Potterheads will both reminisce and rejoice as the eighth film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 brings their fantastical childhoods to a dramatic crescendo and close. (hits July 15)
Captain America: The First Avenger serves as this summer’s flagship superhero movie, with Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans (fired up as the Human Torch) re-donning Marvel spandex to fight patriotic crime during World War II. (hits July 22)
The Smurfs make their first appearance in theaters clad in CGI. Katy Perry puts off her Teenage Dream to star as Smurfette. If the trailers are any indication of what’s to come, the acronym “WTF” will be texted while people witness Smurfs’ Village. (hits July 29).
Final Destination 5 gores up the silver screen without any rollercoasters. But Death is back at the scene of a collapsing bridge, and those who escape still get more than they bargained for. (hits August 12).
To cap off our now-shortened summer, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World returns after eight years of sacred silence. Like its less-than-stellar predecessor, it’ll be released in 3-D, and despite the reappearance of many familiar faces, the new chapter deals with entirely new OSS cadets. (Hits August 19).
Not The E.N.D.: Break out your Beats by Dr. Dre, it’s time to put that $350 to work! Several albums get released during Summer 2K11. Time to free up space on that rhinestone iPhone; it’s gonna be a good one.
Maryland pop-punkers All Time Low release another volume of their sticky-sweet brand of guitar hooks and lovelorn lyrics with Dirty Work, but music magazine juggernaut Alternative Press has already denounced its overproduction, but if you dare… (drops June 7). (Catch them on the Vans Warped Tour when the Virginia and Maryland stops come into town in July!)
Adam Young, under the world-famous alias Owl City, returns to his underground FruityLoops lair to release All Things Bright and Beautiful, the follow-up to a summer filled with musical fireflies and incredibly sugar-coated lyrics. (drops June 14).
Lil Wayne goes back to what albums shot him to superstardom with the release of Tha Carter IV. With rumoured guest appearances by Drake, Nicki Minaj, and even Kanye West, this album is surely one of the obvious hits of the summer. (drops June 21).
Taking Back Sunday returns after 2009’s summer smash New Again with their eponymous record, and it’s sure to make alternative rock fans love their signature white Apple earbuds. (drops June 28).
And while the rest of the summer is riddled with unconfirmed release dates, you can expect albums from acts like 311, Jack’s Mannequin, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and even Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump.
Trigger finger: Remember when cod was just a fish? Most people don’t. Here’s to you, gamers. This summer will not let you down; some great releases are headed your way!
InFamous 2 kicks off the summer months as the sequel to the widely popular PlayStation 3 exclusive. Set in an entirely new city designed after New Orleans, get ready to unleash some good vs. evil havoc in a virtual French Quarter. (PS3, June 7)
Remember 1998? If not, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is getting a rehashing entirely in 3D, giving younger players a chance to relive the Nintendo 64 classic – regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time – in a brand new format. (3DS, June 19)
Survival-horror fans should find solace in the dark and brooding world presented in F.E.A.R. 3, and those in for a less intense experience that still rocks, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series is releasing an exclusive compilation for those new to the stealth-shooter series. (PS3/360, June 21)
Tired of Call of Duty? (I don’t think anybody is). A new shooter is on the horizon, this time in third-person style that hearkens back to the likes of Killzone and Resident Evil 4. Spec Ops: The Line is sure to appease fans of the long-running franchise and newcomers alike, and with the PlayStation Network back online, there isn’t a better time to tackle the online campaign. (PS3/360, August 2)
Driver is back: those who are familiar with Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto series will feel right at home here. Driver: San Francisco touts a new feature called Shift, which allows the main character to shift from car to car seamlessly, which adds a different, fresh perspective to the otherwise bland run-n-gun genre. And let’s not forget EA Tiburon’s yearly entry into the Madden NFL franchise, with ’12 hitting shelves about the same time we hit the books. (PS3/360/Wii, August 30).