November 29, 2013 12:00 AM

‘The Book Thief’ a too-safe, sanitized adaptation

Certainly the prettiest look at World War II Germany on screen in a long time (those Nazis just seem a little cranky), “The Book Thief” seems to occupy a strange, lonely middle ground. The young readers who loved Markus Zusak’s novel for its narrative complexity and tough-mindedness will find little of that here; the movie, adapted by Michael Petroni, smooths down those edges. It’s as if the film has been made safe and nonthreatening — but who wants to attend a slow-paced, two-hour-plus war movie?

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