Don't Believe the 'Watchmen' Hype. Really. Don't.

To paraphrase a well-worn bumper sticker: Alan Moore, protect me from your followers.

A couple of weeks ago, a Time magazine blogger named Matt Selman bestowed upon the online world the gift of his impressions of the new "Watchmen" movie. "Sitting in that screening room and watching the visual world of the Watchmen movie unfold," he wrote, "was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had. Not film experiences. Just EXPERIENCES." (The hyperbolic all-caps YELLING is sic.)

If it strikes you as a little sad that a grown man would describe viewing a superhero movie, even one based on a graphic novel that Time earlier named one of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923, as among the most moving moments of his life, be assured that Selman is not alone. Another reviewer called the film "a profound work of art, a beautiful, deliriously weird, meditative spin on a genre that is as American as jazz." One Nate "Blunty" Burr all but explodes with glee in his video review of the film, saying that "Watchmen" is "a modern masterpiece," an "overwhelming experience that just floods over all your senses" and "an astounding cinematic experience." Whew.

To be fair, this sort of overblown praise is par for the course when dealing with anything associated with Moore and Dave Gibbons' legendary novel, which has been called, among other things, "a masterwork representing the apex of artistry in its … medium," "the greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced" and, hilariously, "such a monumental achievement that it makes 'Moby Dick' look like a flaming pile of horses--t by comparison."

Has the whole world been hitting the crack pipe?

"Watchmen" the graphic novel is good, even very good. It's complex, layered, nuanced, multifaceted and everything else our own Devin Gordon wrote in his take on the film. It's also a hell of a good read. It is not, however, even close to being on par with "Moby Dick," "Lolita," "Catch-22," "Infinite Jest," or any of a hundred other monumental pieces of popular fiction. Let's get a grip, people—"Watchmen" may well be the best graphic novel out there (though Art Spiegelman's "Maus," Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" and Moore's own "From Hell" arguably rival it), but it's simply not TEH GREATEST THING EVER CREATED IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE ZOMG!!!!! And that's not to detract from Moore and Gibbons' achievement, only to offer a leeeetle bit of perspective on that achievement.

Similarly, Zach Snyder's cinematic adaptation of the book may very well be true to every panel and brilliantly directed (though skepticism is warranted, considering that he also helmed the dungheap that was "300"), but really, the kind of over-the-top fanboy adoration that the film is being hosed down with isn't good for anyone. The odds of the flick outdoing "Citizen Kane" or turning out to be the most miraculous piece of cinema in the history of the medium are slim, to put it mildly, and all the raving only heightens audience expectations and increases the chances for disappointment. To put it plainly: No movie could live up to the standard that has been set for "Watchmen." (Especially not one that distributes blue condoms [yes, blue condoms] as promotional items. Sorry, but that's just tacky.)

Of course, most studio execs would throw their personal assistants off a cliff to create this kind of hype—it fills seats on opening night and boosts the oh-so-critical first weekend's gross—but it's something that people who really care about the quality and reception of the film (i.e., the director, overly excitable fanboys) should do their best to tamp down or at least keep to a reasonable level. By treating the film like the second coming, reviewers are actually ensuring that more people will walk out of theaters underwhelmed and disappointed with the very piece of supposedly mind-blowing art the reviewers were trying to get those audiences to adore in the first place.

With fans like these, "Watchmen" hardly needs enemies.