I was only one year old when Jurassic Park came out, so I've never seen it on the big screen. I have, however, seen it about 40 times. It was one of those movies I grew up with. And as you may know, you always have that sweet spot for those movies you grew up with. While watching Jurassic Park for this post I realized I hadn't seen it in a long time. There were whole scenes I didn't remember. Not every movie you loved as a kid holds up and remains good when you watch it as an adult. Lucky for me, Jurassic Park is awesome.
I do think it's one of Spielberg's best films and a nice companion to Jaws, in my opinion, Spielberg's very best film. The biggest strength of Jaws is in its characters. Jurassic Park doesn't have characters as iconic as Brody, Hooper and Quinn (which movie does?), but it does share another of Jaws strengths (and it has dinosaurs).
The first is the understanding that the scariest thing about being attacked by a T-Rex is the moment you realize you're going to be attacked by a T-Rex. Such as these similarly composed and terrifying images (I have to say these were the ones that scared me the most as a kid).
And then there's the something Jurassic Park does better than Jaws. Except for a couple CGI shots, its visual effects hold up incredibly well. I can't think of another piece of CG imagery from the 90s that holds up as incredibly well as the T-Rex and the Velociraptors. They are so well integrated to the movie that you can get engaged in the danger the characters are in the way you never could in more modern movies like I Am Legend or The Hobbit. Economy is fundamental in the use of great CG, as in this seamlessly integrated scene:
And finally, my last favorite thing about Jurassic Park, it features the single most terrifying situation you could find yourself into when attacked by a dinosaur.