The best place to start is with the Characters, because are like the best in any monster movie or natural disaster film, and it's not because of Drama or strong development in character but the fact these characters are real. When I mean real I don't mean they're based off real life people but portrayed in a realistic sense as well as this movie in theme, message, tone and setting/time period. What gives it that feel is that most of these Characters as well as this movie is very socialist based, Especially coming from characters like Dr. Yamane, And Dr. Serizawa the movie as well as character is a very social based film. It's like twelve angry men meets star trek in which, instead of an action based movie with screaming people running from a monster it instead has characters take this very serious like it's a real life event, and try to find compromise but ends in a bitter tragic way, whether it's sci fi or not. That's what these Characters are not over dramatized people,real people trying to find a way to handle this disaster in a social environment even when that environment has damaged by it. Though are characters that do fall flat mostly Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada), Emiko Yamane (Momoko Kochi) kind of feel generic at some moments but still give a Strong performance and dialogue better than Ford and sally from the 2014 film.
The other is the story, much like our Characters is also great, but in my opinion I think the story is better than the characters, in fact thanks to strong storytelling and pasting mixed with setting and tone makes the movie not just interesting but very atmospheric and surprisingly quiet. Despite the music like the Godzilla march, and rampage the movie is very quiet in its tone most of the conversation/dialogue have no background sound and brings in this breath of fresh air and calmness that builds up the attack and tragedy to come. The best way to describe it, is the cinematography, though the special effect are questionable and a little outdated but what takes away from that is its cinematography and camera work the shots are beautiful and artistic it's a great example of show don't tell story telling, it's like Jurassic Park mixed Jaws without the cgi which is also refreshing. But what really brings it together is to me the true theme of Gojira "The Prayer For Peace." what separate this movie from other Godzilla's is that piece alone. It is beautiful but sad, wondrous but tragic dramatic but atmospheric all in one. This piece practically alone sums up this movie in one whole a tragic, realistic, uneasy film with a sense of beauty and calmness that creates a sense of atmosphere that brings this film to life then ends with Tragedy and an uneasy feeling of regret and weakness.
This all comes together with its host who is only in it for 7 minutes long his name is Gojira. Gojira not just in of monster or character but is also like "The Prayer of Peace" is a strong example of the films tone, message and theme. By first off the character is not really a monster but a natural disaster an earthquake, hurricane and a volcano merged with the fear of the atomic bomb and other weapons of mass destruction, as a representation of nature's wrath, power, vengeance and pain. A comparison is with Kong, Kong though strong and powerful, can break Dinosaurs jaws, climb the Empire state building or trash trains, and cars is still just an animal taken from the wild. Same is to the rhedosaurus from Beast of 20000 Fathoms, there are still wild animals. Though Godzilla being an animal is not represented as such but instead a force of nature a natural disaster, which is why I don't call Godzilla a monster movie his character and film is natural disaster based then monster. What even separates this from even natural disaster films is that for once mankind is neither the bad or good guy, and yet still Doesn't get the victory in the end. Even when they do kill the monster man still isn't the victor he doesn't win because there is no victory for anyone even Godzilla the only victor. Why? Because even when the creature is defeated the danger is not over because he was just one of the first of his species, and the struggle for power whether it be political or weapons of mass destruction comes to clash with nature, gives birth to Godzilla once again and always will. Its an uneasy ending that ends with no answer of who will win or if can be solved because it may never be, an almost unending cycle which thus strengthens Godzilla making his return inevitable.
Gojira 1954 to me is one of my favorite films of all time, not just because of its dark messages and themes, its real world issues of that time period, man's power quest vs. nature the fact that the film takes it in a serious, mature manner. Mainly due to film not having a bad guy or Good guy, because it's not about that. It's a commentary, while also its own thing even if it has monster or Natural disaster elements thrown in it, it's still not about that or even close to it. It's called being social which is what this film is doing its being social, trying to solve or talk about the issue/situation and find a solution even when that answer is still unknown and may never be known. This is what Gojira 1954 is.
The special effects might be a bit dated, but Gojira still holds up with a simple story with smart additions, tragedy, and good performances in this revolutionary, and surprisingly thought provoking, monster movie.