All I remember thinking when I first saw this movie was "when's he going to show up?" I don't think it clicked that the kid was Spock... I was just expecting him to come out of nowhere and for everyone to go "ah, there he is." Come to think of it, it wasn't much of a "search," seeing as they knew where he was, but then again, I guess they couldn't call it "Return of Spock" because that's a spoiler ... even if we could have figured that one out. They wouldn't make a movie and not bring him back. Nor were they just going to bring him back in the first two minutes and carry on. They can pull that crap within a movie in order for there to be a sequel but not when it ends with the character still dead. Ultimately, how they did it works... unless you think about too much.
"So you're telling me that... Spock's casket flew off into orbit around the Genesis planet, fell into the planet's gravity, and then fell thousands of miles through the sky at high speeds and
Maybe I like it because it's still a gorgeous movie. The score by James Horner is, well, it's just like the one from Wrath so it's excellent. But let's get serious, the real reason I enjoyed it so much was because the Enterprise self-destructs in an epic battle against the Klingon Bird of Prey (certainly the best time this happens). I can still hear the computer voice "5...4...3.." "Get out of there!" "...1". I also enjoyed how Kirk stole the Enterprise out of space dock in a grand orchestral swell, and how they had to sabotage the Excelsior and make it go "clunk-a-clunka-ka-dunk" in space to get away. It was all so well done you don't even care about the plot holes... ("wait, why do they need to go to planet Genesis to get Spock's body if it burned up in the atmosphere at the end of II for all they know?"...) My brain didn't work on that level at the time though. Heck, it barely works on that level now.
So I may have really revealed my borderline nerdhood with this one, but trust me, I was always more of a fan of the movies than I was of the TV shows, and I never really watched much of TNG, but this film was worth learning how to work a VCR for on a summer afternoon.