it is a powerhouse of a performer, disappearing into whatever role it inhabits. He once again does exactly that in transforming him into the world of bodybuilding obsession into intense Dreams Magazine. The first half introduces a fascinating premise, though it loses its way and never manages to find a way to recover.
‘Magazine Dreams’ dives into the world of bodybuilding
Killian Maddox (Majors) lives with his veteran grandfather, whom he helps care for. Meanwhile, he attends court-ordered therapy appointments and works at a local grocery store, where he admires a cashier (Haley Bennett) with whom he has a crush. However, it seems that Killian can’t muster the strength to ask her out due to her social anxieties.
He spends all his time dreaming of becoming the biggest bodybuilding superstar in the world. Killian looks up to bodybuilder Brad Vanderhorn (Mike O’Hearn) as her idol, wanting to match her level of physique and success. He is not about to let anyone get in his way, including the doctors who tell him that he is causing permanent damage to his body.
An obsession with the physical becomes dangerous
Dreams Magazine rest in the pain and misery of Killian. His outbursts of rage are what led him to court-ordered therapy sessions, where he lies with increasing frequency. Killian’s dependency on steroids certainly doesn’t help, as he continues to spiral. Most of his frustrations stem from diet, exercise, and fitness, as his community has a severe lack of access to grocery stores and an excess of junk food.
Killian isn’t willing to accept anything less than her idea of physical perfection. He participates in bodybuilding competitions, where he is judged on the appearance and size of every inch of his body. As a result, Killian looks at his body under those terms, haunting that his deltoids are too small after a judge criticized them as such, asking strangers if they agreed.
Beyond his dreams of bodybuilding fame, Killian simply wants a human connection. He looks for it with his crush on him from the grocery store, as well as in the letters he sends to his idol. However, nothing seems to go as planned. Writer/director Elijah Bynum’s script progressively feeds the audience crumbs from Killian’s past, as he continues to inform his present and the direction he will take later. It is undeniably tragic and perpetually haunts his career and social endeavors.
‘Dreams Magazine’ loses its way
Dreams Magazine it’s a character study, putting the journey on Majors’ shoulders. He gives a remarkably amazing performance as Killian, lifting the words off the page. Majors fully captures the physicality of the bodybuilder, fading into the body language and cadence of the character that heighten the drama.
Bynum builds a laborious survey of the world of bodybuilding where almost all hopes are dashed to dust. It’s an admittedly grim movie divided into two halves. The first follows a man who pursues his dreams of becoming a bodybuilder, willing to do everything in his power to achieve that goal. That is followed by a change in the characters’ motivations, as Killian loses control and wants to watch the world burn. The latter pullsand the though Bynum’s vision is only half-hearted and superficial when it comes to its heavy subject matter.
Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw finds a compelling way to bring to life this film that is consistently amazing to watch, further accentuating the power of Majors’ performance. Dreams Magazine it opens on a compelling note, but then monotonously repeats it without nuance and leaves its own character study dangling in a bland space. The technical craftsmanship and lead performance are impressive, but its thought-provoking plot never challenges like it should.