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The group suggest to free the imprisoned birds as Lawrence's ship nears Articuno. Lawrence provokes the Freeze Pokémon using fire. Something underwater notices the commotion and ascends. Back in the chamber, Ash calls out Charizard and Pikachu to use {{m|Flamethrower}} and {{m|Thunder Shock}} to free Moltres, while James calls out {{TP|James|Weezing}}, who fails to save Zapdos. Jessie then releases {{TP|Jessie|Arbok}} to attempt to release Zapdos with {{m|Poison Sting}}, but it fails to penetrate the prison. Ash calls out Squirtle and Bulbasaur. As Squirtle joins in with {{m|Water Gun}}, Moltres is released. Moltres unleashes a Flamethrower attack that breaks Zapdos free. As the two birds are freed, however, they immediately get into a fight and destroy the ship in the process. The ship informs Lawrence that it is going down, and promptly crashes onto Lightning Island. The group evacuates and lands onto the island. The debris of the ship crashes onto the pedestal, destroying it and releasing the Lightning Sphere, which Ash acquires. The group escape onto Melody's boat while Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno duel overhead. A giant typhoon scoops up the boat and carries it to the Shamouti Shrine, where Ash and the others meet Slowking, the shrine's guardian. Able to speak, he shows Ash where to place the collected spheres. When he sets down the Spheres of Thunder and Fire, the legendary birds attack the shrine, but are stopped by the sudden appearance of {{mov|Lugia|Lugia|02}}. Lawrence eyes Lugia from the remains of his aircraft in awe, considering it "his prize" while the other three birds gang up and attack it. Lugia attempts to quell the fighting and protect the shrine, but the Diving Pokémon eventually falls victim to the attacks and crashes down. Meanwhile, the massive gathering of Pokémon arrive after crossing the now-frozen sea.
Melody plays the same tune from the ceremony, which reinvigorates the fallen Lugia. Lugia, who can also speak using {{t|psychic}} powers, explains that Ash must collect the Ice Sphere from Articuno's island. Ash doubts he can do it, but support from his friends and Pokémon changes his mind when Misty realizes when the legend states 'The earth shall turn to ash' it refers to the earth relying on Ash as the Chosen One to save it. As Ash sets out with Pikachu, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charizard, and Lugia towards Ice Island, Team Rocket witness a helicopter containing Professor Oak, Delia, [[Professor Ivy]] and a news crew crash land. Seeing a discarded inflatable raft and the helicopter's tail propeller, they get an idea. Ash's attempts to reach the island are thwarted by the legendary birds, but Team Rocket surprisingly come to the rescue on a motorboat using the items they salvaged. Team Rocket shock Ash by revealing that they do not wish for the world to be destroyed. The heroes (and villains) race through the island using the raft and find the Ice Sphere, which Ash obtains. The legendary birds appear and ambush the group in Ice Island, then Articuno is knocked downout by its opponents. Lugia saves Ash, Pikachu and Team Rocket and heads back to Shamouti.
However, Lugia is slowed down by the extra weight of Team Rocket. The trio of villains decide to let go and nobly sacrifice themselves to allow Ash to save the world, which surprised him. As Ash notices the gathered Pokémon, he asks Lugia, who responds that they gathered in case they were needed, yet they stood still because they were unsure about what to do. As they approach Shamouti Lugia suddenly comes under attack as Lawrence's, using the remains of his ship, whichmakes isone stillfinal functional,desperate triesattempt to capture his prize. Lugia, butmanages itto usesunleash an {{m|Aeroblast}} attack to defeat the remaining legendary birds and destroy Lawrence's ship before falling unconscious into the sea. Ash also falls unconscious into the water and Pikachu tries to urge Ash to wake up. Fortunately, Misty arrives in time to save the two. Misty and Tracey revive Ash, who leads the group back to the shrine. Ash inserts the final sphere into the shrine, which shines brightly with the unison of the spheres. The pillars glow in tune as Melody plays Lugia's song, which revives it and restores balance to the legendary birds. Lugia takes Ash and Pikachu for a flight with Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres beside them. Suddenly, a giant stream of water rises out of the ocean (the Beast of the Sea) and is tamed by the song. All the birds return to their homes and the Beast of the Sea vanishes into the ocean.
Lugia also departs, thanking Ash for his help. After Lugia leaves, Delia, Oak and Ivy arrive. Delia scolds Ash for his recklessness, but after Misty tells her he saved the world, Delia asks him if he could visit her once in a while on his journey. Ash agrees to her request. Lawrence picks up an {{TCG ID|The Power of One|Ancient Mew|promo}} card from the wreckage of his ship, deciding to restart his collection on a smaller scale. The film ends with Team Rocket appearing on Shamouti, having survived their sacrificial fall, lamenting that nobody actually saw them being heroes - but Slowking reveals to them that many people watched them and are right now. Slowking looks towards the screen, [[breaking the fourth wall]], as do Team Rocket, who end the film discussing what they should do now since they seem to now be good.