Exactly, neuroanatomist! Everything in excess is bad.HDR comes from High Dynamic Range, which means no more and no less than ability to reproduce details in extremely bright areas and dark, without blowing off the whites or producing opaque detail less blacks in the shadows!
But with HDR, what's excess? The way I see it (pun intended?), the main idea of HDR was to get the camera closer to what the human eye sees. I always felt that's what the grandaddy of HDR, Ansel Adams, thought at least. Now, a camera on RAW has the majority of the dynamic range the human eye does in most situations (i.e. daytime landscapes). To go beyond what the human eye can see looks contrived, tacky and just plain bad. Not only that, but throw in the supersaturation HDRers like to use, and you actually start getting farther away from the human eye. I only HDR to give me those extra one, two, or maybe three stops on both sides of what properly exposed RAW image can give.
Sure you could say, "Well, that's my artistic prerogative," and you'd be entirely right. But then you could take a few torso-up portraits and fill the top with a rainbow gradient fill and suddenly call all those senior pictures you're going to make a couple hundred dollars on "art."
For me, the allure of photography is its commitment to reality.
It does not mean wired bizarre or as some call "artistic" effects.
All that, I am saying is that legitimate, perfect technical term was reduced in to description of cheap effects produced by couple of simple programs.
My objective when using HDR is just that: "reproduce details in extremely bright areas and dark, without blowing off the whites or producing opaque detail less blacks in the shadows!"
And I have found some success using Photomatix. However, my final images often come out flat with too little overall contrast, while also usually needing more saturation. Generally just dull looking. Can fix some of this in Photoshop, but results rarely live up to what my "mind's eye" visualized. Often when I get the final contrast similar to what I want, the result is much like one of my bracketed images. So I have gone to a lot of trouble when conceivably correcting the best bracketed image may have provided similar contrast - and a satisfying result.
Can't avoid HDR that exists in many scenes we want to photograph. So the motivation to reduce the DR in the final image will always remain. In time, the HDR software and/or in-camera equivalent processing is only going to get better.