Fan Film Review: ‘The Romulan War (Part I)’ Documents Star Trek’s Untold Future History

First mentioned in the classic Star Trek episode “Balance of Terror,” the 22nd-century Earth-Romulan War has been established as one of the seminal events of Trek’s future history. However, the details of this important conflict remain largely a mystery. Some elements were established in Star Trek: Enterprise, but the series was canceled in 2005 before it could fulfill fan hopes of fully connecting to this important bit of Trek history. Paramount did commission a script for a film focused on the Romulan War written by Band of Brothers scribe Erik Jendresen in 2006, but the project never got out of the development phase.

So the Earth-Romulan War remains an enigmatic and largely unexplored period in Star Trek’s official canon, making it ripe territory for non-canonical exploration. Into that territory comes the 2020 fan film, The Romulan War (Part I). Conceived by Writer/Producer/Director Mark Naccarato as a homage to the World War II documentaries he watched with his family as a child, The Romulan War (Part I) details the first stirrings of conflict between the Earth Starfleet and an enemy whom they have never seen face-to-face, and whose name they don’t even know.

Hannah Cochrane in The Romulan War (Part I)

Presented in the format of a 24th-century historical documentary, Naccarato’s film looks back on how “The Age of Archer” collapsed into a war that threatened to split apart the alliances the captain had worked so hard to establish. Befitting the style, it comes complete with interviews from experts, mixed in with recreations and historical footage from the conflict itself. The Romulan War mixes footage from several science fiction shows and films (including Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, the J.J. Abrams Trek films, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica) with real-life news footage digitally altered to contain Trekkian elements, as well as new actor footage and a metric ton of spaceship scenes created by veteran fan CGI artist Samuel Cockings.

The documentary format brings with it both benefits and difficulties. The story of the war is well-established with excellent voice-over narration and interviews with characters reflecting on that time. Where many fan films struggle to portray a coherent plot, the documentary approach makes that fairly straight-forward. But the historical distance and the lack of character interactions make the whole thing feel emotionally distant and impersonal.

Visual effects shot in The Romulan War (Part I)

The script sprinkles in Trek canon references liberally, from Captain Styles to the Starship Archon, and many more in between. Fans of history will also recognize how elements of the war mirror real-world events, adding an element of realism to the film.

By and large, the acting is solid, with standouts including Mark Harriman as the narrator, Katherine Morgan as Hannah Cochrane, and Ethan Jones as Brandon Chambers. Two scenery-chewing performances by Rob Wilds as the Romulan Admiral Kovallus and Marc Mazzone as Praetor D’Deridex are amusing and engaging, while other actors perform about on par for an average fan film.

Rob Wilds as the Romulan Admiral Kovallus in The Romulan War (Part I)

Samuel Cockings is well-known in the fan community as a talented CGI artist and the co-host of the popular TrekYards video series on YouTube. Just in space scenes alone, The Romulan War (Part I) has close to 200 CGI shots in it, and the vast majority of them are impressive. Spacecraft, space stations, planets, and nebulae fill the screen with color and action, with many new ship designs. Some shots contain dozens of elements, all combined with skill. A few maneuvers look awkward, and a couple of close-ups reveal segmentation on the models, but these do little to detract from the impressiveness of the visual effects.

Likewise, greenscreen sets are well-used, though there are a number of scenes where the motion tracking is a little off, betraying their low-budget origins. The music is freshly composed for this series by Adam Mullen, and it does the job well.

Visual effects shot in The Romulan War (Part I)

The Romulan War (Part I) is a well-conceived and competently-executed fan production that accomplishes its goal of bringing a WWII documentary style of filmmaking to a neglected area of Trek History. Some of the performances rise above typical fan film quality, and the effects are often quite cool. The film tells a strategic story, not a personal story, and as such can feel emotionally distant at times, but for fans hungry for a history set in the days after Enterprise’s fourth season, it may well do the trick. 

Watch The Romulan War (Part I)

Campaign for Part II

The 24-minute film was initially privately funded by Naccarato, who shot several scenes on his own dime before launching an Indiegogo campaign that eventually netted a little over $13,000 for the production. A second Indiegogo campaign was recently launched to help fund Part 2 of the story. The campaign seeks to raise $10,000 and will wrap up at the end of January.

More Romulan War

We will have an interview with Mark Naccarato coming up soon with more details on the making of the film as well as what he has in store for Part II.

In the meantime, you can check out the official site theromulanwar.com. which includes more content, including comic book stories and the “War Stories” audio drama. You can also follow along with progress at The Romulan War YouTube channel and the official Facebook Page.


Keep up with the news and analysis of Star Trek fan productions at TrekMovie.com.

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This should be canon.

CBS should make The Romulan War (Part I) canon and call it a day.

I really like the WWII documentary style filmmaking approach. It tells the story in a realistic and informative manner. Puts more layers and context to the Earth-Romulan War like any armed conflicts in our own history.

War never changes, wars in the past and future are always the same. Regardless of advanced weapons technology and improved military tactics. It’s human nature after all.

I love history so this film is my thing. Really interested in World War 1, World War 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Napoleonic wars and other battles throughout human history. Very nice and I would watch it.

Last edited 3 months ago by Faze Ninja

Would be ironic if Axanar tried to get a cease and desist on the clear imitation of concept…

Stay tuned for our interview with Mark Naccarato, where he discusses this question. Short answer: The Romulan War came first.

The Romulan War, or the concept of this production came first? If it’s the latter, then it’s wildly obvious Alec Peters just riffed this concept in it’s entirety…..

Never gonna happen

Why not? Axanar’s daddy seems to live in that Trump-like sue-everybody mode, especially the ones who have legit legal grievances against his own misdeeds. Take a look at Carlos’ Axanar site documenting AP’s misdeeds, we’re talking ripping off widows and dealers right and left while in the prop-selling business.

You are right, and I agree with you that there was never enough attention from the studios concerning The Romulan War. I wish you luck and success in this endeavor.

Not bad. The current makers of Star Trek would never do anything like this.

Awesome!! Loved it :)

Kudos to everyone involved!

its called star trek not star wars.

I just scanned parts, but it has the same vfx aesthetic problem as Axanar, in that the ships all seem to run at one speed (too slow) throughout unless jumping to warp. Didn’t watch enough to see if this shared Axanar’s more major problem, that it was just plain lousy dramatically, but in general am not a fan of psuedo doc unless it is done by Christopher Guest on a very good day or THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS.

Have you actually ever watched Star Trek before? Trek uses capital ships and those don’t (and can’t) move “fast”. Just like they don’t in Star Wars. When’s the last time we saw a Star Destroyer or Republic cruiser do fast/tight maneuvers when they weren’t going into hyperspace? Never. And if we you did, you or someone like you would be bashing it for defying space physics or whatever… and they’d be right.

Also… maybe watch the whole film before offering your brilliant insights and people might take you more seriously. I mean, the thing’s only like 20 minutes… lazy much?

Sounds like you already came into this one hating it because you don’t like faux-docs and/or Axanar. Again… no one should take you seriously with a “critique” like this.

I did watch it, and there’s nothing special about this. Yes, Trek (and SW’s, for that matter), just substitute spaceships for the grand sailing ships of old. For portions of the fan base who like to go on about canon/continuity, and scientific accuracy, even at sub light, these ships should be very fast….fast enough that there could never be human navigators “flying” these ships, simply because human nerve impulses would ever, ever enter commands fast enough to actually control the maneuvers of one of these ships. Everything we see is for dramatic effect, there’s never been any scientific accuracy to the construct of the Trek ships, it’s all artistic expression. When you acknowledge that it’s a lot easier to enjoy Trek.

I’m not asking you to take it seriously, since you’ve clearly got your own fixed POV on this.

Note that my principal objection was the one-speed aspect, something that even TOS with its tech limitations wasn’t often guilty of, as there were both fast and slow flybys, and ship pivots that took place at different velocities, rather than this fixed ‘dead slow’ rate that characterizes AXANAR and what I saw here. I’d refer you to Maurice’s posts on TREKBBS about this ‘one slow speed’ aspect and AXANAR, but clearly you’d only go there to pee in the pool instead of contributing to the discussion.

And in terms of not liking faux docs … had you ever even heard of BATTLE OF ALGIERS before I mentioned it? That is an immense artistic/critical achievement, and just as valid in its storytelling as it was when first released, back when GR was still trying to get TOS on the air.

How long does it take before you decide if you like something, anyway? Does it always take at least 20 minutes? Or in this case do you just lap up anything with the TREK moniker on it? In this case, I watched a minute, saw nothing special, jumped ahead, saw nothing special, and then skimmed, backing up once. Still saw nothing special (and don’t say I”m picking on fan films, I don’t see much special coming out of CBS or Bad Robot either, or much from Berman’s whole era outside of him holding the reins while DS9 was on.)

And save your ‘let’s see your effort’ snipe too, I made better a couple better ‘fan’ films when I was a teenager in the 70s. I was smart enough to realize if you can’t compete on production value, your best course is parody, not outright imitation, and left my ‘serious’ efforts for ones that didn’t owe anything to existing properties, lest they be judged against them on ‘too cheap to take seriously’ level.

Constructive criticism

I wish CBSAA would do this for their short treks. It was a good fan production and adds to the lesser known part of Star Trek mythology.

It looks like it was great fun to film.

They did a pretty nice job. I get that it seems impersonal but it IS supposed to be a historical record as viewed from the TNG era. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, it would be ‘… as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.”

Sorry, but it’s 20 minutes of bland here. If you like stock footage of spaceships shooting at each other, then todays your lucky day.

Last edited 3 months ago by Phil

Exactly. Why would anyone want to spend so much time showcasing their lack of filmmaking and story telling talent?

better question is who would finance it?

Didn’t Paramount/Viacom/whoever say there couldn’t be any more fan productions?

No, but they put some pretty tight restrictions around what they could, and couldn’t, do. I’m under the impression they allowed some wiggle room for projects in process, I’ve no idea if this was one of them.

I stopped at the 3 minute 21 second mark when these guys who made this had their voice actors say, “Hold your fire, we’ve got WOMEN and children aboard.” Here’s a hot tip: You don’t get to make a future that is remotely believable while using outdated sexist tropes from the past that you still cling to, hold and harbor yourself. Women are not to be grouped with defenseless children – who are without agency or capacity because they are simply too young to defend themselves. Women are not inferior beings that need to be “saved” by men. This made me think this was made by man-baby incels in their parents’ basement. I can ignore the horrible green screen work and lighting, but sexist nonsense like this is just as unbearably boring as it is common. F for effort in imagining what the future will look like. Hint: It will not look like the sexist present or past.

Last edited 3 months ago by Luke Montgomery

I’m not sure if you’re serious.

Have the CBS/Viacom fan film restrictions been removed? I remember they said only inidividual stories, no longer than 15 minutes… don’t remember if they allowed a 30 minute two-parter?