Yes the first scrapped version had a lot of potential and really made an arc for Moana to obtain through hard work.
My main issues with the rendered film
: At the very beginning of the film Moana is given the heart of Te Fiti but loses it, then Tala collects it off screen with no real reveal. It's like the film wants you to just go along and not question how she knew about Te Fiti.
: Moana lives in a paradise where's she's loved and respected, she's already great at being a chief at day 1, Despite this she's craving to leave for the ocean for reasons? She's not struggling so what is her real goal here? If they wouldn't have made it such a big deal of leaving the reef then I think this buildup could have worked. It also goes against the idea that Tui refuses to help his people since they're island is getting affected and if they stay they will eventually die.
: Making Hei Hei a antagonist was an awful idea but even worse when he's nothing more than a dumb idiot causing unnecessary gags for the film. They should have stayed with the first version of Hei Hei that was just a normal rooster but with loyalty towards Moana.
:Jared Bush is to blame for deciding to cut Pua's involvement. Apparently they cut it about 5-7 months before the films release. Critics and fans reacted negatively to the misleading promotion with Pua involved but stays at the island. It didn't make sense since they clearly explained that Pua and islander pigs are great swimmers for there to be any real peril for the pig. The way that they almost showed Pua drown is very inaccurate to how a pig swims.
: The biggest plot point that goes against the rendered film is the ocean itself. Which Big Joel explains wonderfully. If the ocean could bring the heart of Te Fiti itself all this time why did it haft to give it to Moana? Why did it try to kill Moana on her quest to help her island find fish? Why did the ocean not help Moana during her first visit with Te Ka?
: Notice how Moana doesn't haft to work hard or get to places herself, no the ocean is just going to help her, help her find Maui, help her hold Maui on their journey, and literally save her life during the climax. It's only by the the I am Moana segment that she gets herself out of hard work and determination.
:The overall tone shift really lowers Moana's epicness that originally was going to play a big part of her journey. The lack of any real threat from mythical sea creatures and a powerful creature (lava witch) threatening the protagonist was very missed opportunity.
Things the film got right that I do respect is
Make Moana deserve the heart of Te Fiti for saving an innocent life (baby turtle) from dangers over choosing a sea shell.
Tala helping Moana leave the reef with a honourable farewell as a manta ray
Having a scene between Moana & Te Fiti, while cliché but it was still well executed.
Having Moana's island voyaging again at the end to face new horizions (staying true to the legends of wayfinding)