How do you adapt “Winter’s Tale,” Mark Helprin’s epic 1983 magical-realist novel, into a movie? If you’re writer-director Akiva Goldsman, you take a meat tenderizer and hammer away until all that’s left is romantic-fantasy mush. Colin Farrell plays a heroic burglar in pre-WWI Manhattan, Jessica Brown Findlay (“Downton Abbey”) is the rich girl he loves, and Russell Crowe is a demonic (no, really) gang leader after Farrell’s soul. Throw in a flying horse, hit-or-miss digital sets, a miscast Special Guest Star as Satan, and endless pseudo-philosophical banalities on the soundtrack, and you have an acceptable date-night guilty pleasure. You also have a near-total dumbing down of Helprin’s book. With William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, and Eva Marie Saint. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
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