I was four years old, in 1992, watching Star Trek The Motion Picture on a very large, very old, television set that my mother inherited from her parents. I was watching the "longer" version of TMP that had aired on TV some years earlier.
The opening scenes are very dramatic and atmospheric. The music, the entire soundtrack, has always been my favorite. Everything has richness and depth, and atmosphere.
The one thing I appreciated it, at least from childhood, is that Star Trek could be a little dark, scary, and mysterious. V'ger was the trigger for some of my earliest remembered nightmares. Adrift in the depths of space, witnessing some horrifying unknown pass by in the dark...
Even though as a kid I ate all the visual effects up as imagination fodder, I think the movie needs a good 20 minutes hacked out of it. Star Trek just isn't 2001. It does not need to be so overly
long. Many repetitions of dialogue, useless scenes, and visual effects sequences should and can be easily removed from the film, and give the story/characters some breathing room. I honestly think you could get the movie down to 90 minutes and have a much more Original Series experience out of it. Wish I had access to the footage with just the clean dialogue, it would make the job of doing a fan edit so much eaisier.
There are actually several really strong character arcs within the film (Kirk, Spock, and Decker) but they are drowned out by all the excessive self-loving effects work. It's beautiful, but also totally unneeded, and you wouldn't lose any of the story told by those effects by trimming those sequences down.
It did leave a huge impression on me overall. I was always a bit of a reclusive kid, and Star Trek gave me an avenue to be myself.
I had always hoped that TMP would become a TV spin-off back in those days. Shortly after seeing it, Q-13 Fox had a "Star Trek Megathon" of the top rated TOS stories. I started collecting the movie era VHS tapes after that. Saw them in a strange order. TMP, TSFS, TWOK, TVH, TUC, and TFF. Yes, I ended on what is considered the worst. Still appreciated seeing more of Kirk, Spock, and Bones.