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It’s up to you, the reviewer

Studios this year have been breaking tradition and opening a number of movies without first giving film critics a peek for reviews, as New Line just did with “Snakes on a Plane.” What -- did they think Gene Shalit and his colleagues wouldn’t appreciate the way Samuel L. Jackson beats the venom out of those blankety-blank snakes?

Or that “Benchwarmers,” “Big Momma’s House 2,” “Pulse” and “Zoom” -- to name just a few of the unscreened releases -- would likewise rate a raspberry?

If so, they may be right. And studios are betting that the lack of a review -- or even a bad one after the movie opens -- won’t keep people away. Especially when the Internet has created a buzz or when the genre already has a clutch of hungry fans.

So, how did the mystery fare rate? We sent our reporters into the field over the weekend to see what early audiences thought of some of these movies. After all, the proof, as they say, is in the box office. (See the box-office totals in Business.)

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Street Corner Critics

We asked moviegoers around town what they thought about some recent films, none of which had been screened for reviewers before they were released. Some of their opinions can be summed up with “hokey,” “awesome” and “not funny” -- but be warned, their conversations also reveal plot points from the movies.

-- Melissa Pamer and Kelly-Anne Suarez

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Snakes on a Plane

Jon Randelman, 18

USC student from Orinda, Calif.

at Flagship University Village 3 in L.A.

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What did you think? It was much better than I expected. I thought it would be kind of hokey and just sort of over the top, which it was. But in a good way....

Why’d you see it? My friends said, “Let’s go see it,” and I went along with them. And it had Samuel L. Jackson just being a badass.

Best moment of the film? Probably when the guy threw the little dog at the snake.

How about the worst? When the girl got bit on the eyeball.

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Would you tell a friend it’s worth seeing? Absolutely.

Who is the coolest person or creature in the film? Oh, Samuel L. Jackson.

Rate it: **** 1/2

*

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Will Harrison, 25

Pressure washer from Vancouver, Canada

at Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood

What did you think? It was awesome.... It was definitely different and original. They married the action and the comedy together really well.

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Why’d you see it? The really cool-looking poster and the title.

Best moment? When they realized that the guy they wanted to get to fly the plane, at the end, had no real flying experience.

The worst? The acting wasn’t that great.

Tell a friend? Yes.

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Coolest performer? Samuel L. Jackson.

Rate it: ***

*

Teo, 44

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Independent filmmaker from L.A.

at Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood

What did you think? It was fun.... You knew what you were going to get. There was no way you could be let down.

Why’d you see it? I read that Sam Jackson had signed onto this movie from the title. I said, “OK, if he’s that crazy....”

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Best part? Every time somebody got bit.

Worst? They had kind of built up that [character] Flex Alexander was going to get his ... chewed because he was kind of an ... and he didn’t.

Tell a friend? I would tell him he would have fun, yes.

Coolest performer? Samuel L. Jackson.

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Rate it: *** 1/2

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Zoom

Stephanie Munson, 10

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Long Beach fifth-grader

at the AMC Marina Pacifica 12 in Long Beach

What did you think? It was really good and fun because in the end, Zoom reunited his family.

Why did you pick it to see? I saw commercials on the Disney Channel and decided to see it for my birthday.

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What was the best moment? Watching the superheroes do their thing, like Cindy, who was able to lift and throw things like cars and tables.

Would you tell a friend it’s worth seeing? Yes.

Who is the coolest in the film? Zoom [Tim Allen].

Rate it: *****

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Jessica Houser, 53

Long Beach, astrologer

at the AMC Marina Pacifica 12 in Long Beach

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What did you think? It was bathroom humor and not funny. Tim Allen had a nice bod.

Why’d you see it? I’m interested in outer space and saw a flying saucer in the trailer.

Best moment? The little girl with super strength -- I thought that sent a strong positive message.

The worst? Chevy Chase was awful. His character should be killed.

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Would you tell a friend it’s worth seeing? I would recommend it to children.

Coolest performer? Houdini, the cute boy [Michael Cassidy].

Rate it: ** 1/2

*

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Ryan Cameron, 12

Los Alamitos seventh-grader

at the AMC Marina Pacifica 12 in Long Beach

What did you think? It was really good; it had a lot of action but had drama scenes too.

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Why’d you see it? All my friends said it was really stupid, so I wanted to see for myself.

Best part? When Concussion [the villain] returned and Zoom got his superpowers back.

Tell a friend? Yes.

The coolest? Mega Boy [Spencer Breslin].

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Rate it: **** 1/2

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Pulse

Manuel Lopez, 38

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Gas station manager from Los Angeles

at the AMC Loews Marina 6 in Marina del Rey.

What’d you think? It was your typical horror flick. The premise was there, and for a while it looked like it was going somewhere, but then it just died. It didn’t bring it home.

Why this one? I’m a horror fan.

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The best moment? When they tried to kill the virus.

Tell a friend? No, don’t waste your time. Wait for the DVD.

Who gets the cool crown? The virus.

Rate it: **

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Mauro Rosales, 30

Student from L.A.

at the AMC Loews Marina 6 in Marina del Rey.

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Your thoughts? It was OK; it had a lot of the elements of “The Terminator” and the horror movies I grew up with. It was the best Internet-based horror movie I’ve seen.

Why this one? I thought the special effects looked cool in the trailer.

Worst moment? By the time the plot revealed itself, you didn’t care anymore. I kept thinking, “Why is this happening? Did I miss something?”

Would you tell a friend it’s worth seeing? Sure, if you want something different.

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The coolest? The virus.

Rate it: *** 1/2

*

K.C. Bosserman, 23

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Student from Marina del Rey

at the AMC Loews Marina 6 in Marina del Rey.

What did you think? I would have rather put my money toward a tube of lip gloss. You know, something at least a little enjoyable.

Why this one? Just killing time between shopping and dinner.

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Worst moment? When the guy killed himself; it was all downhill from there.

Tell a friend? Absolutely not.

Coolest character? The lead guy [Ian Somerhalder], he was cute.

Rate it: *

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